How barcode technology is helping the public sector to digitalize in Estonia

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Every single day, millions of people suffer from long and arduous bureaucratic processes just to get a simple thing done, thanks to their government’s general inefficiency and unwillingness to adopt new technologies. Some are even worried that the data their government collects might fail to protect their privacy.

While it seems impossible to make any change to this big organization, a relatively new government has successfully transformed itself into an efficient and transparent system. That is the Estonian government, the birthplace of Skype and the former Soviet Union.

Deserting the traditional administrative forms, such as letters or visiting in person, Estonians can do every single task with the public sector with their computer including voting. The citizens use their eID cards to connect to their PCs, and then the eID authorizes access to government service. The eID has 1D and QR barcodes to enhance the security of the verification process.

They also allow foreigners to obtain virtual residency to open a bank account and a business through e-Residency policy, which also issues a card that has access to necessary services to start a company in Estonia.

This full digitalization of the government was only possible with a transparent yet secure system, intricate enough to protect itself from foreign cyber-attack. Technologies such as barcodes and QR codes helped to improve the efficiency and security of the system.

Based on their experiences of creating eID cards and highly digitalized government, Estonia started a global vaccine passport system last month. Partnered with WHO which chose Estonia as the right candidate to work alongside, they successfully developed and implemented a digital certificate that proves if you’re immune to Covid-19 either through a full vaccination or recovery from it.

Concept photo of Covid-19 vaccination certificate in hand of an immune person

Individuals can download their unique QR code to their smartphone or print it if they’re vaccinated or obtain immunity against Covid-19. People then will use the codes as passports to freely go through quarantine policies between borders, much needed for nations to recover from the economic recession caused by the pandemic.

It is a great example that how the inefficiency of the public sector can be overcome by digitalizing the whole system with a thought-out plan that integrates existing technologies like barcodes into a bold transformation.

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