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The Strategic Council for Digitalisation will operate as six working groups

At the 1st Session of the Strategic Council for Digitalisation (hereinafter SCD), members discussed the council’s aims, and the timeline and organisation of work. Numerous content suggestions and solutions were also presented.

The 1st Session of the Strategic Council for Digitalisation

The 1st Session of the Strategic Council for Digitalisation | Author Office od the Prime Minister

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As SCD president Mark Boris Andrijanič explained, six working groups have been set up: public administration and the digital society, health, the digitalisation of education, the economy and the business environment, new technologies, and digital diplomacy. In his opinion, Slovenia lags behind many European countries when it comes to digitalisation. According to the DESI digitalisation index, we are in 16th place, behind Finland, Estonia and Austria. At the same time, the whole of Europe is being overtaken by the USA and China.

In addition to the Prime Minister and the president of the SCD, almost 40 debaters took part in the session:  Ivan Simič, Mitja Štular, Ajša Vodnik, Žiga Turk, Igor Zorko, Marko Grobelnik, Medeja Lončar, Jure Knez, Gregor Macedoni, Gregor Pipan, Sonja Šmuc, Daniel Avdagič, Tomaž Gornik, Miha Lavtar, Tine Türk, Jure Leskovec, Darja Grošelj, Andraž Kastelic, Nejc Novak, Marko Pavlišič, Aleš Špetič, Andraž Tori, Irena Nančovska Šerbec, Goran Živec, Andrej Mertelj, Jure Mikuž, Barbara Domicelj, Matej Potokar, Aleš Groznik, Marko Bajec, Julij Božič, Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Mark Pleško, Matej Tomažin, Žiga Vavpotič and Andrej Brodnik.

According to Prime Minister Janez Janša, the council for digitalisation does not include representatives of government ministries, government services or public institutions – or at least not primarily – because they want to this body to prepare proposals without burdening it with considerations of how this will then have to be executed and put into practice. Among other things, he suggested some goals to be pursued by the strategic council.

“By 15 September we expect a proposal to digitalise the country, so we will be able to say what needs to be done in individual areas, without going into the issues, how much something will cost, how it will be done, and who will do what.  If you are going to give suggestions and provide information on this, that is fine but that is not the intention: the intention is to say how something should be achieved. Namely, our goal is that in five years’ time, Slovenia will be among the top five countries on the digital index,” said the Prime Minister. He then highlighted the goal of facilitating the consistent implementation of the fundamental principle of the lean state. “In all administrative procedures, it should be the state body that obtains from the official databases all the data required to implement the procedure, so that it will not be the citizen that has to edit all the information. Of course, by entering and submitting an application, we consent to the state body acquiring this information,” the Prime Minister said. Another of the goals is to upgrade the physical digital infrastructure and connect all business entities and households, and all this requires basic knowledge of the use of digital technologies, which should be included in the school curriculum. “Of course, this cannot be done overnight,” Prime Minister Janša stated.

Subsequently, members provided a number of solutions and substantive suggestions. We present some of them here.

Ivan Simič, president of the Strategic Council for Debureaucratisation, welcomed the establishment of the Strategic Council for Digitisation. He expects good cooperation between the two strategic councils. He believes that Slovenia can only achieve its goal through unity.

Mitja Štular is of the opinion that digitalisation begins with quality broadband infrastructure that offers fast access and a sufficient density of communicating devices. He considers it important to establish partnerships. The future is in business partners, with whom it will be possible to develop effective solutions (bad practices: long-term care, telemedicine, hospital IT systems). We need to focus on things that will add value. Too often we invent something that has already been invented and at the same time, we forget about the user. One such example is eUprava. It has lots of possible services but low usage. The education system needs to be tailored to all this. What matters is how politics relates to this and how much it encourages us to do so. He is pleased that we are encouraged this time.

Žiga Turk is convinced that the general improvement of the environment in Slovenia will be good for digital. We cannot separate the digital strategy from some general improvement of all types of environment in Slovenia. Digital is not an end in itself but increases productivity in other industries. He proposed the establishment of a council for digitalisation in construction.

Ajša Vodnik expressed the hope that we will write a story about a green reference country called Slovenia and that this story will go in the direction of harmony between technology and humanity. She is convinced that computer science and informatics and digital literacy must be introduced into the school system. We also need to include the elderly.

Igor Zorko pointed out that we have extraordinary experts in Slovenia but we do not know how to transfer this into the local environment. It is important that we strengthen people’s confidence in technology. We have to build a business environment that will enable the development of companies in the digital field and implement it constantly. Among other things, he proposed the establishment of technological standards in the healthcare system, the digital transformation of inter-digital legislation and collaboration between IT companies and public administration – that is, the hybrid partnership model.

Marko Grobelnik expressed the belief that it would be necessary to increase the efficient use of the invested money. He believes that there is a lot of European money but he does not know how to get it. He also drew attention to salaries in the IT industry and appealed to decision makers for help in attracting foreign investment.

For Medeja Lončar trust is also a challenge so she proposed the establishment of a digital ombudsman who would deal with the pitfalls that digitalisation brings and, at the same time, answer people’s questions. She stressed the importance of communication and backed human-tailored solutions. She welcomes the ambitious goals and considers leadership extremely important. Therefore, she suggested digital mentoring between the private and public sectors. She also expressed support for increasing the number of enrolments in technical faculties. She believes that data analytics is the profession of the future. It is essential to connect the social sciences and the natural sciences and to increase the number of places in the social sciences for informatics. She also highlighted digitalisation for environmental solutions.

Jure Knez believes that it is essential to clearly define that the steps that lead to results. The funds available need to be used efficiently so it is crucial to specify concrete solutions, which will mean faster and cheaper implementation, and to clearly define the necessary legal changes.

Gregor Macedoni stressed that Slovenia is trailing in the public sphere and this could put us above the average. Mr Macedoni said that we need to start from users’ real needs. He is convinced that every citizen needs a single digital account. He pointed out that Slovenia has a problem with uneven regional development but digitalisation requires a “top-down” approach. He welcomes the idea of the Minister for Public Administration that the field of digitalisation of employment will also become one of the fields of municipal administrations. Mr Macedoni added that we are lagging behind in the areas of traffic and mobility.

Gregor Pipan drew attention to the aggregation of personal data and control over this data. He expressed a wish to use open data.

Sonja Šmuc produces three concrete measures: arrange the basics, connect the databases, and standardise and automate everything. Digital competences need a basis; Slovenia is below the OECD average in terms of functional literacy. The third foundation is the transfer of artificial intelligence to the economy. Concrete measures: promotion of e-commerce between companies, development of the capital market and a development cap.

According to Daniel Avdagič, we need to create a model city in the field of cities or urbanisation.

Tomaž Gornik pointed out that the key source in healthcare is data, and digitalisation is the key to connecting the doctor with the patient. With COVID-19, digitalisation has received a big boost, which we need to take advantage of.

According to Miha Lavtar, communication and a positive example are positive as this is the foundation.

Tine Türk pointed out that digitalisation affects gross domestic profit. Among other things, he mentioned the electronic purchase of cars, for example.

Among other things, Jure Leskovec suggested that Slovenia, following the example of Israel, should place a greater emphasis on the return of educated employees to the homeland.

Darja Grošelj claimed that internet access is neither universal nor self-evident. She stressed the importance of establishing lifelong digital literacy.

Andraž Kastelic is committed to a comprehensive system evaluation in the field of cyber security, which would cover various areas, including the private sphere.

Nejc Novak suggested the possibility of establishing and managing companies entirely at a distance.

Marko Pavlišič talked about services in the field of public administration; the strategic goal in this field is to increase their usability with useful solutions and thus simplify citizens’ lives.

Aleš Špetič drew attention to the existing applications and data that people are not informed about and do not use.

Andraž Tori suggested that occasional compulsory working from home should be introduced in the state administration.

According to Irena Nančovska Šerbec, a compulsory subject of computer science should be introduced and included in the programmes of primary schools, high schools, and vocational and technical schools as well as in nursery schools.

Goran Živec expressed a belief that digitalisation is not a goal but a means for general development.

Andrej Mertelj warned that we should not look for an ideal solution but try different solutions and thus find the best one. 

Jure Mikuž would like to optimise processes, especially for highly educated technological staff, and stressed the promotion of successful technology companies.

Among other things, Barbara Domicelj proposed the introduction of a single digital identity. In the field of cyber security, he proposed the establishment of good infrastructure and the involvement of a wide range of experts.

Matej Potokar believes that Slovenia is ideal for pilot projects.

Aleš Groznik estimates that the project of digitalisation of public administration depends on each government, which will prioritise it differently.

According to Marko Bajc, the provision of comprehensive support for ensuring the optimal health of the elderly is vital.

Julij Božič expressed the belief that we are in a historic period. Among other things, she proposed the introduction of a digital development agency.

Emilija Stojmenova Duh agreed that the introduction of basic digital infrastructure is the basis for all. The development of digital literacy and digital competences is the first priority.

Mark Pleško stressed that in the digital world we have to ask ourselves what we could do better. 

Matej Tomažin backed the introduction of a digital identity.

According to Žiga Vavpotič, it is crucial that Slovenia’s approach to digitalisation is friendly and green.

Andrej Brodnik proposed the introduction of the compulsory subject of informatics and computer science in all primary and secondary schools, the introduction of digital literacy and then the preparation of a lifelong learning system.

At the end of today’s meeting, Prime Minister Janša gave an assessment that the meeting would bear fruit. “The positive energy and synergy from today’s meeting is palpable and I hope that has come across through digital platforms too. Many of the suggestions can already be used on an ongoing basis and there is no need to wait for the final plan but the key is support and trying to explain to people that it is in our interest to find the right answer as to who will do it and that we are able to reward it. We live in a society where we are part of a market economy and fair work for fair pay has been one of the generators of progress for thousands of years. If we fail to recognise this, we are dragging ourselves backwards,” stated Prime Minister Janša, thanking everyone for their contributions today and for moving Slovenia to the forefront of digital Europe.