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24 February 2012

A High Tech Country Celebrates Its Birthday

Siret Toots imageToday I am happy to welcome a guest writer, kalmstrom.com Sales and Relations Manager Siret Toots. She comes from Estonia, a small country by the Baltic Sea that celebrates its 94th birthday today, and she will be telling us some about the amazingly advanced technological level of this young nation.

Tradition of mechanical industry
"For a long time Estonia has been known as a highly technological country, and already after the first World War Estonia was exporting home equipment, radiators, farm machinery, refrigerators, phones and also ships and tractors. For a tiny nation of about one million inhabitants, this was a great achievement. The image below shows Suur Tõll, the largest preserved pre-war icebreaker in the world. It was built in 1914 and is today moored at the historical seaplane harbour in Tallinn.
Suur Tõll photo

Tiger's Leap
Today Estonia is once again in the forefront when it comes to technology. In 1997 our government launched the Tiigrihüpe, which is Estonian for Tiger's Leap. The goal of this project has been to invest heavily in development and expansion of computer and network infrastructure, and it has been a true success. Today 95% of all banking Suur Toll photois done online, because the country has a 99% wifi and a 100% cellphone coverage. In 2010 public phones were actually removed everywhere, as no one was using them anymore. The first internet elections ever were held in Estonia, and today you can even vote via the mobile.

Emphasis on schools
From the beginning the Tiigrihüpe project concentrated much on using modern technologies to improve the educational system. All Estonian schools have Internet access and most have computer labs. Student records are online, and every teacher has a computer in class. Marks, tardiness, homework, comments ‒ everything is put in the student’s account and updated in real time so that both parents and students can see it. Also if a pupil is at home due to illness, both pupil and parents can see the homework and get test times and other important information via the Internet.

Tall Herman photo
Tiger’s Defence
After several cyber attacks in 2007 Estonia combined its network defense with its common military defense, and Estonian flagthis was so successful that NATO created the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn. The project has been nicknamed Tiger's Defence in analogy with Tiger’s Leap.

Birthday party
Today Estonians are celebrating. The president holds a ball, there are military parades and families gather for traditional meals. It is a bank holiday, and yesterday schools had historical plays and companies closed early. Now I live in Sweden, but this day my thoughts are with Estonia and I share the joy of my countrymen.