By Katerina Michael
Digitalisation is the conversion of data and processes, a transformation of the already known and established processes of everyday life.
More than just making existing data digital, digitalisation embraces the ability of this technology to collect data, establish trends and make better decisions.
The Nordic countries are widely accepted as digital frontrunners in the European and global context. Overall, their policies have fairly similar goals, with their main focus on digital public services, healthcare, supporting growth and innovation in business, and ensuring digital security.
While most European countries still struggle to conform to new technologies, the Nordic countries have managed to extensively educate their citizens on how to use the internet correctly and, above all, its tremendous benefits.
With low cost or free internet connectivity almost everywhere, the number of people using the internet has increased rapidly.
Most of the Nordic population now have a digital ID, which they can use to pay taxes, book a doctor’s appointment, or even conduct online doctor’s sessions – especially since it is harder for older people to pay their doctors a regular visit due to the pandemic – and for a range of other public services, even voting in elections.
A role model of innovation for the rest of Europe is the Nordic educational system.
While primary and secondary digital education learning is still in progress, when it comes to higher education, cutting-edge research on digitalisation is conducted on teaching and learning in Nordic universities to debate current practices and future prospects, exploring the impact of Covid-19 with an eye to the long-term implications of the rapid changes we have experienced.
Where does Cyprus stand?
Cyprus has shown great progress in terms of business digitisation, but there is still a long way to go until the opportunities are fully utilised.
Specifically, Cypriot companies are showing significant signs of inadequacy even for the most common technology uses, resulting in Cyprus being below Europe’s average for digitisation.
The government is trying to introduce new methods of how people can benefit from the use of internet and technology.
Users have increased in 2020, compared to previous years, but the services offered remain short.
The Cyprus government initiated a project called the “Government Online Secure Portal” (https://cge.cyprus.gov.cy), or Ariadne, an electronic platform that citizens and businesses can use for electronic services (e-Services) in a secure manner, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Why use Ariadne?
There are substantial reasons to use Ariadne. This is a secure e-payment platform with unified passwords in all e-Services.
You can have online access from anywhere, home or office, anytime.
The process of online applications and government transactions become simplified, quick, easy and at a very low or minimum cost.
As a citizen, you can be informed about the progress of your requests – it applies in cases where the competent department’s own information systems can provide the requested information – faster and most efficiently, while you avoid the trouble of booking appointments.
Visiting a government office during this period is extremely hard and time-consuming.
In 2004, the Cyprus government launched the TAXISnet (https://taxisnet.mof.gov.cy) electronic service. TAXISnet offers electronic submission of tax returns for VAT and Income Tax.
Why use TAXISnet?
The goal of TAXISnet is to make it easier for taxpayers to settle their tax obligations effortlessly, promptly, and efficiently.
With its creation, TAXISnet managed to modernise the tax system by submitting the requested documents or forms using modern technology, upgrade information, reduce bureaucracy and directly serve the user with its 24-hour operation.
In recent years, TAXISnet has been upgraded, offering the possibility of paying debts using a credit card or bank account.
In the system, individual citizens can submit their annual income tax returns and companies can submit their income declaration forms.
For-profit as well as non-profit companies can apply.
Furthermore, interested parties can print their vehicle’s registration fees or status of their vehicle, their payment forms, and declarations of their transactions as well as to receive information about their tax obligations.
And it’s not just electronic bill settlement.
Government’s around the world are slowly taking advantage of the use of modern technology to save the environment and make one’s stay in a country more fun and easier.
NextBike Cy Ltd. (https://www.nextbike.com.cy), that owns and operates the public sharing system in Limassol since 2012, is now expanding its network by cooperating with Nicosia, Strovolos, Agios Dometios, Engomi and Aglantzia municipalities, with SmartBikes.
The use of NextBike is easy and practical as you can rent a bike or scooter via your mobile phone.
By using the GPS, you can track where the nearest bike or scooter is parked and leave it at any map point you consider convenient for you.
The goal of NextBike is to provide a supplementary and environmentally friendly means of transport for point-to-point distances to the local community, tourists, and students.
Overall, digital technologies are empowering us with increasing amounts of data and information that are transforming the way we shop, travel, work, learn, communicate, and deal with government interactions.
The strongest potential of digitalisation is knowledge sharing.
Digitalisation is clearly an issue with broad political support, and it presents substantial opportunities for long-term, considered collaboration between local and even national borders, from the Nordic countries to the rest of Europe.