New centre assesses impact of e-state
The Center of IT Impact Studies (CITIS) is the only institution in Estonia which does quantitative assessment and modelling of the impact of public e-services and technology. CITIS trains e-state developers, but they also use the data from the e-state to develop new services.
The Estonian e-government ecosystem currently offers about 1500 e-services, which in 2014 were used more than 340 million times; digital authentication was used more than 80 million and digital signing more than 35 million times. During its natural course of work, the state creates a huge amount of data through its institutions, which has great potential in improving management efficiency as well as developing new services.
Besides the spread of the possibilities of the e-state, not much is known about the economic, political and social impact of e-services. “There is surprisingly little evidence about the impacts. Questions, such as, do e-services save time and money or are they just marginal alternatives aimed at convenience, or how Estonian e-services have grown over time and what could their future be like, are unanswered,” said head of the centre and UT Senior Research Fellow in Technology Research Kristjan Vassil, adding that these are the questions that CITIS addresses.
One aim of the centre is to create new knowledge based on the analysis of Estonian e-services and train experts of the new generation who see new possibilities for innovation in the intersection of public e-services, data analysis and service development. The corresponding study courses have already been created to achieve this. A course began in February, which focuses on analysing the impacts of Estonia’s e-state and digital services and measuring and assessing the impacts. An open online course will take place in autumn which deals with specific e-services and their impact assessment.
According to Mihkel Solvak, Senior Research Fellow at UT Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, interest in e-services is international. “In the context of the e-state, Estonia’s interest is directed outwards. Analysing our e-services allows us to show others how and why similar services would succeed or not. International advertising of the e-state is just as important as analysing how much we could cross-use current data, in order to come out with new solutions,” said Solvak.
In addition to training experts of the field, the centre uses the data from the e-state to develop the e-state. The long-term aim of CITIS is to cross-use data to develop and test prototypes of new knowledge-extensive innovative e-services, the creating of which does not require separate data collection processes but instead focuses on evaluating already existing datasets.
According to Kristjan Vassil, the performance of CITIS will be evaluated in four years not only based on the people trained and research output, but also based on if and how much CITIS has helped develop new evidence-based e-services which have a broad social impact.
The Center of IT Impact Studies is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication through ESF program “Increasingly digital literacy 2014–2020” and by the University of Tartu.
Kristel Vits, CITIS Project Manager
phone +372 58 160 307
e-mail kristel.vits [ät] ut.ee, citis [ät] ut.ee