Denmark spearheads public digitalisation

Aug 31, 2020 | Articles

For the second time in a row, Denmark ranks first in the world when it comes to digitalisation in the public sector. That is according to the UN’s E-Government Survey 2020, which comes out every two years and measures the level of digitalisation in the public sectors in 193 countries.

Holistic technology is the way forward

It is the way in which Denmark has chosen to approach public digitalisation that makes all the difference, the UN report says. The Danish digitalisation strategy is primarily based on the creation of a centralised information and communications technology (ICT). Denmark’s ICT connects public organisations through their sharing and using data from the same platforms – such as Borger.dk, Sundhed.dk and Digital Post.

Centralised ICT makes it easy for the public sector to communicate across organisations, strengthening work processes both internally and among councils. Other countries don’t use the same kind of centralised ICT and so it can be difficult to create effective work processes across the public sector.

The UN report furthermore praises Denmark for its focus on digital inclusion and for centring the technology around its citizens. When all information and communication goes through digital platforms, it’s much easier to ensure that everything is accessible.

The basis for the streamlining

Digitalisation of this type is not built in a day. Denmark started down the path towards digitalisation back in 1968 with the introduction of the central national register or CPR. All citizens were assigned an identification number, and all data concerning the individual citizen was collected in the register. The CPR constituted one of the cornerstones that later made it possible to develop a digitalisation strategy. Since then, not only the public sector but also citizens have adjusted to a digital future.

It wasn’t until 2011, however, that digitalisation truly began impacting the way the public sector became an integral part of the everyday lives of citizens. It was the introduction of Digital Post that fundamentally changed the way in which public organisations informed citizens and came in contact with them.

Digital Post

All citizens and private companies were required by law to be able to accept email from the authorities. That requirement paved the way for the expansion of the digital infrastructure, as the authorities could now send all correspondence electronically. At the same time, public organisations were given the tools they needed to transfer their communication to a digital format.

This new digital format allowed for email to be sent in a single click instead of officials having to print documents and mail them manually.

The combination of this new legal requirement and a digital solution in the hands of the authorities helped put Denmark’s entire digital infrastructure where it is today – at the top of the UN’s E-Government Survey.

Digital Post has both made it easier for citizens to find information and allowed them to initiate contact with the authorities themselves. It’s worth adding that digitalisation cut down on many hours of work, as well as costs, by streamlining trivial administrative work. The public sector in Denmark saves more than two billion kroner a year, the ministries spend 30% less time on case administration and have achieved 96% more transparency in the various organisations.

A digitalised future in the cloud

Denmark’s digitalisation strategy is to remain the frontrunner on a global level. That means always looking beyond the horizon and staying up-to-date on the latest developments in the digital world. Automatisation of document production, especially in cloud solutions such as Office 365, is one of the areas that will gradually grow in importance in the years to come. It is therefore important to discover what the cloud is and what opportunities it has to offer a public organisation – while avoiding the pitfalls.

Digitalisation is about creating a public sector in which smarter work processes provide the space and time needed to be present where it counts the most. Digitalisation is a means to strengthen and improve one’s organisation – not a goal in itself.

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