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Estonia works on an AI-powered government

We’ve been closely following Estonia’s progress when it comes to her progressive ideas and digital implementations since 1997. Recently we also posted about how this small Baltic nation has been bestowed the title of world’s most digitally connected country.

And now, a new direction helmed by Estonia’s new Chief Digital Officer, Ott Velsberg, sees the country pushing towards an AI-powered government.

In a desire to preemptively step in to assist citizens -- rather than wait until they ask for information or assistance -- the project focuses on creating as many automated public services as possible.

One major AI project is around healthcare where algorithms can help predict when people need medical checkups based on their healthcare records and pre-existing conditions. For example, diabetes sufferers may be called into doctors’ offices more frequently than healthy people. The end goal is improved healthcare and cost efficiency.

Another AI project involves unemployment. The Estonian government already uses machine learning [link to AI vs ML vs DL article] to carry out profiling and recommend relevant jobs to its people. Algorithms can also predict which jobs are in danger so that potential next steps and suitable employment can be suggested.

According to Velsberg, AI powered job matching has enjoyed a higher success rate than previously had. Around 72% of people who were suggested a job by the algorithm were still employed six months later, compared with 58% of those advised by a human.

Big data

Any conversation about AI would not be complete without talking about data.

Estonia is hoping to build a data economy where everyone from government teams to researchers to citizens can use, share and exchange data.

Current blindspots for this include metadata classifications and semantics. To solve this, Velberg would like to appoint data stewards well-versed in analytics to act as product owners for a ministry or agency’s data, ensuring the data is of high quality.

While data scientists don’t really exist in Estonia, Velsberg is working to set data governance and quality standards, abd collaborating with partners to train select civil servants as data stewards.

Read more about Estonia’s AI projects, or check out our other AI posts.

By Jo Lo
Jo Lo

About the author

Jo Lo

Jo is a digital producer at Pattern. Jo has a background in communication, and has worked as a producer and editor for organisations such as Les Mills International, Tailor, Auckland Libraries and XtraMSN/Telecom. From 2007-2009, Jo was the web editor for Taste and Metro magazines.