Sunday, 4 September 2016

A touch of dissonance

I was amused by a small posting on the web site about the successful (aren't they always?) fact finding trip by the assistant ministers to Estonia.   Digital fact finding

Of course in the days before Tim Berners-Lee put the world at our fingertips, it was generally necessary to do trips like this to find out  how things are done differently elsewhere.  It is good to be open minded about what others do.  That is one of the ways we learn and improve.  However  there is something dissonant about this trip.

Estonia is a digitally fired up country, perhaps the world leader when it comes to e-gov. Jersey has spent tens of millions of pounds of public money on the fibre project Gigabit.  The question has to be asked therefore is e-gov anything like it is cracked up to be.  The bandwidth is there, the technology exists, but if we cannot get facts on a relatively open government like Estonia  through digital, is it ever going to deliver?   It doesnt register very highly on the credibility stakes to have assistant ministers doing a marketing pitch on something , but then failing to adopt  the policy aims themsleves.  Why could they not  teleconference, what exactly did they expect to find out with their senses about digital what couldn't be done, well digitally?  

They are not alone of course.  We have a sustainable transport policy of sorts, but we have reserved car parking spaces at the airport so ministers and assistant ministers can  demonstate their commitment to the policy!  We have cuts to all sort of services to save money, but strangely the States member's pay and the expenses allowances remain sacrosanct.   

If our elected ones really want to see higher turn out in elections, more participation in the machinery of governemnt, they could do an awful lot worse that demonstrate some practical  leadership on  those things they spend so much time talking about.  Start to close the credibility gap or it is only going to get worse.


  1. Mark,

    couple of points:

    1. You may be aware that the Estonian government have launched a program called e-residency: you are allowed to take out a form of citizenship which, while it doesn't confer right of residence or yet entry, allows you an Estonian digital identity card, meaning you can access digital services. However, the gateway to this (rightly) involves a personal appearance before either embassy staff or staff in Estonia. From what I understand part of the trip was for Messrs Ozouf and Moretta to get their digital citizen cards.

    2. The information is most certainly out there about e-governance - in fact the Estonians sent a man by the name of Siim Sikkut to Jersey in March: I met him at the DJ Hub. But telling people something works and demonstrating it firsthand are not the same.

    3. One of the issues (for me the biggest) that came out of Siim's talk was that the technology isn't the issue. People in Estonia were concerned when their police force got effectively real-time access to their main digital network: however, with that access went stringent rules about what could and could not be done. Police officers who stepped across the line were dismissed and I think also prosecuted. That's about as far from my experience of the Jersey authorities as it's possible to be.

    4. Similarly, the attitude to getting people to use services in Estonia basically started with finding what people wanted to do, and then helping them do it quicker and more easily. I have yet to see any indication that any member of Jersey government has actually got this. There are still large numbers of people in Jersey who simply will not touch the Internet (not least because access is overpriced). Digital transformation isn't happening, and it's not going to. Perhaps a visit to Estonia is the least of out problems!

    1. Thanks James. The digital residency point is a good one - and that makes the trip rather more valid. I certainly agree on 2/ I've noted the 18% of the population In Jersey without access before and it is a serious political concern.