The use of free and open source software has benefited Estonia's program to create modern e-government services, says Siim Sikkut, ICT Policy Adviser for the government. "All our key projects become open source, including the systems for health care, police, business portals and document exchange."
Other examples include software for e-Justice, a citizen portal and software for e-Procurement and e-Invoicing. "The code of all these centrally financed, key IT systems, are made available as open source software", Sikkut said at a e-government conference taking place in Singapore on 22 May. "We also co-develop a lot together with the private sector, basing this on open standards."
He detailed the country's IT architecture, the primary aim of which is interoperability. Apart from providing numerous electronic services to the public sector, it also provides points of access for banks, telecom and energy companies. "We co-developed our e-ID card system together with banks and telco's, starting in 2001. The system is used by more than 500 000 citizens, almost half the population."
The government prefers to use this type of software because it brings clear benefits, Sikkut says. The tree main advantages are cost efficiency, innovation and sustainability. "This software uses the best technological know-how as input. And because it is open source, it is easier to switch developers if needed."
The government by default makes its code available using the European Public Licence, EUPL.
According to Sikkut, the government is planning to pursue its free and open source software strategy. "A new national ICT strategy is being worked on. It will widen our focus on re-using existing software solutions, that are available in software repositories. A second emphasis will be on the joint-development of existing e-government services and the creation of new ones."
Future Gov Asia news item