Smart Country News
June 22th 2021
Austria is the partner country of the Smart Country Convention
An app for visiting local authorities and an e-Card for showing one’s identity: as one of the pioneers of the digital transformation, Austria is this year’s official partner country of the Smart Country Convention. From 26 to 28 October 2021 on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds, our neighbours will be presenting innovative digital applications for local government and the public sector and digitization at town, municipal and county level.
Studies show that Austria is a trailblazer in the field of digitization: an annual E-Government Benchmark comparison of digital public services undertaken by the European Commission since 2001 gives full marks to Austria’s local government. In 2020, in a study of 36 countries Austria came joint third with Latvia. Together with Malta (in first place) and Estonia it was among Europe’s top three. It also leads Germany and Switzerland. In Austria, acceptance of E-Government services by companies and the public stands at 81 per cent, 11 percentage points above the EU average. The introduction and implementation of digital public services has an approval rating of 87 per cent, an incredible lead of 15 percentage points. The criteria for this EU-wide comparison are a variety of benchmarks from the European Union’s Digital Agenda: a focus on users, transparency, cross-border availability and key technological elements for assuring online public services. In 2020, for the individual countries examined, marks were given for transparency in online public services, mobile-friendliness and cross-border availability.
The success in digitization achieved by Austrian local government has attracted considerable attention particularly in Germany, not least due to the similarities between the state organisation and legal systems of the two countries. Austria can boast far-reaching, country-wide online availability of local government services (österreich.gv.at, App Digitales Amt, Unternehmensserviceportal USP). In Germany, the Online Access Act (OZG) obliges government at federal, state and municipal level to make their administrative services also available online, via corresponding portals by the end of 2022. The main challenge is less whether all services will be developed by then, but whether they will be swiftly accessible Germany-wide. To date, many services are only being trialled in individual federal states or municipalities. Thus, a nationwide rollout has yet to take place. To achieve that, innumerable local government employees must first be trained and familiarised with new and flexible forms of working together.
”In Austria, public services have long been available online and have naturally been accepted by the public. Digitization has long since consigned bureaucracy to history“, says Achim Berg, president of Bitkom. ”In Germany, we have grand visions of a digital state – but the path to online services replacing in-person appointments is still a long one.“
Austria’s Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs Dr. Margarete Schramböck will visit the Smart Country Convention in October and says: ”Digitization is the key to added value and work in the future, which is why it must become part of our DNA – whether of people, companies or the state. My vision: a tightly organised, digitally efficient state that exploits tomorrow’s technology.“
Commenting on Austria’s role as the partner country Dr. Michael Scherz, Commercial Counsellor for the Austrian Embassy in Berlin, says: ” I am delighted that after the many months of the pandemic Austria will be back in the role of partner country on the stage that is the Smart Country Convention 2021. Many years ago, Austria already began digitally transforming many areas of local government, ranging from the e-Card, the electronic filing of court proceedings and tax declarations, to parking by smartphone. Austrian companies will be presenting their outstanding know-how and innovative drive at the Smart Country Convention 2021.“
Every year, the Smart Country Convention gathers representatives of politics, business and municipalities. The object is to speed up digitization and implement it according to people’s needs. Martin Ecknig, CEO of Messe Berlin: ”With Austria, it gives us great pleasure to welcome a partner country to the Smart Country Convention again. Be it interconnecting rural areas or solutions for smart cities – digitization does not stop at national borders. As a platform devoted to the entire range of topics surrounding the digital transformation of local government and public welfare, the Smart Country Convention offers an ideal opportunity to exchange views and learn from the best in this field.“
You can find the partner country page of Austria here.
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