In the 1950s, the United States undertook a great infrastructure project with the Eisenhower administration’s effort to build expressways across the entire country. This farsighted investment was a key underpinning for a boom in the economy which took place after the second world war in that country.  When we speak of government, it is this type of thing that we mean when we talk about infrastructure.
When we speak of organizations such as companies, government departments and others, infrastructure conjures up the image of internal assets. For IT, the most obvious of these things are networks and security. Each entity develops its own infrastructure and needs to worry about the ongoing maintenance and interoperability with other organizations. It is at point where the infrastructures interact with those of others that things become complex and often break down.
The Baltic nation of Estonia, many years ago bridged the gap between national and corporate infrastructures. Coming out of the break-up of the Soviet Union, Estonia recognized that a technology infrastructure was critical to their future. Estonia built not only a network infrastructure in the country but a security infrastructure for the entire nation. As a result of this vision, all Estonians need have only one single Digital identifier that they can use when dealing with their government, their banks, when donating to charities or when buying over the Internet. The European Union is now looking to Estonia to see how they can provide the security infrastructure for the entire continent.

To be sure, Estonia had the advantage in the early 90s of working from a clean slate as it emerged from the USSR. Regardless, the approach that is has taken to a 21st-century infrastructure recommends itself to all nations on the planet. Sub-national organizations such as companies,  government departments and NGOs should seek to band together to work with national and trans-national governments to develop and infrastructure a la Estonia.

Rob Collins

January 23, 2017

Electronic ID Card