Digitalisation of society
Advanced digital technologies enable changes to existing business models and the creation of new ones, the development of new products and services, and thus increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy in general and contribute to the broader socio-economic development.
Digitalisation of society and economy that is based on the innovative and intensive use of information and communication digital technologies has a strong potential for growth and is the foundation for long-term development and competitiveness in both Slovenia and Europe. It is estimated that digitally proactive businesses are ten times more successful than businesses of the same type that do not use digital technologies. The digitalisation of business processes can significantly improve their adaptability, and increase effectiveness and innovation, thus increasing their competitiveness in the new digital business and social environment.
Digitalisation is not just a matter of businesses but of society as a whole, because it not only contributes to productivity and the efficiency of the economy but also to general socio-economic development. New services and solutions in all segments of society allow for digalitisation to be used for new means of operation, communication, education, entertainment and in other specialised fields.
Standardisation in the ICT field
An e-commerce that is based on universal, globally open standards for ensuring interoperability among IT systems, electronic services and apps of business partners, which transcend national business frameworks, is a key condition for establishing an EU single market. ICT specifications are the foundation of development in the fields of internet and e-commerce. In recent decades, many of the most commonly used technical specifications in ICT have been prepared by organisations, forums and consortiums which have become the leading institutions for their development.
The Ministry of Public Administration is responsible for the information society and is as such active in the field of ICT standardisation. It participates in the verification of the legal status of ICT specifications of international, sectoral and technological organisations (W3C, OASIS, IETF, etc.) on the grounds of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012, which grants equal status to these technical specifications in public procurement as to formal standards of official standardisation organisations at national (Slovenian Institute for Standardization) and EU level (ETSI, CEN, CENELEC). This allows public authorities to use a full range of specifications when purchasing hardware, software and IT services, which brings about increased competitiveness on the market and reduces the risk of being dependent on particular IT solutions and their providers, i. e. the risk of vendor lock-ins. The ministry thus supports the standard-based development of ICT services and apps in order to ensure interoperability both on national and cross-border levels.
Electronic identification and trust services under eIDAS
New technologies for obtaining transferring and collecting information bring about a large amount of data but also bring certain risks. The eIDAS Regulation (electronic Identification Authentication and Signature) is a common legal basis for electronic identification in the Member States. The Regulation simplifies the use of electronic means by enabling electronic identification of legal persons and citizens in accordance with the principle of mutual recognition and acceptance of electronic identification systems. It thus facilitates greater legal certainty of electronic business and strengthens the trust of individuals, legal persons and public authorities in the digital world and electronic transactions in the internal market.
Electronic commerce includes some of the key elements that, in addition to electronic connectivity, ensure the implementation of all business activities between businesses, public authorities and citizens in an electronic manner. In order to ensure technical and legal interoperability, as well as the uniform, safe and smooth execution of electronic transactions throughout the internal market, the EU standardised a framework for implementation and provision of e-commerce building blocks, which include the following nine trust services:
- issuing qualified certificates for electronic signatures
- validation of qualified electronic signatures
- storage of qualified electronic signatures
- issuing qualified certificates for electronic seals
- validation of qualified electronic seals
- storage of qualified electronic seals
- issuing qualified electronic time stamps
- qualified service of electronic registered delivery services
- issuing qualified certificates for website authentication
The key objectives are to speed up cross-border electronic commerce and enhance trust in online environment and electronic transactions in the internal market of the EU. On the one hand, this allows increased competitiveness of business entities, and on the other hand, various services and products are accessible to a wider range of the population, thus improving the quality of life.
The Ministry of Public Administration, responsible for the information society, coordinates the preparation of the national environment for the implementation of the eIDAS Regulation. The ministry is reforming the legislation so that it will also include national electronic identification means and is preparing identity cards with e-ID together with the Ministry of the Interior.
National trusted list of qualified trust service providers
The national trusted list of qualified trust service providers contains information related to qualified trust service providers that are monitored by the Republic of Slovenia and information related to qualified trust services provided by them in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC.
In accordance with the Decree on the implementation of the Regulation (EU) on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No 46/2016 of 30 July 2016), the ministry responsible for information society that also carries out the duties of supervisory body under Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 and supervision under the national Regulation on the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 maintains and publishes the trusted list.
Electronic commerce is regulated by the Electronic Business and Electronic Signature Act, which regulates the general provisions for e-commerce and validity of contracts concluded in electronic form, and the Electronic Commerce Market Act, which regulates matters relating to the registered office of service providers, commercial communications, electronic contracts, the liability of intermediaries, codes of conduct, out-of-court dispute settlements, court actions and cooperation between Member States. The two acts transpose into the legislation of the Republic of Slovenia the Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic commerce in the internal market, which, inter alia, requires that Member States establish contact points.
The contact point at the Ministry of Public Administration provides general information on contractual rights and obligations, as well as complaint and redress mechanisms available in case of disputes, including the practicalities of their use. It also provides information on bodies, associations and organisations where the applicants can receive further information or practical assistance.
Free flow of non-personal data
Digital data generated by our devices are a source of information for planning a more efficient, productive and innovative business and operational model. In order to make full use of the data economy for growth and employment, a regulatory framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union was adopted under the European initiative for the free flow of non-personal data and development of cross‑border business. For non-personal data, the FFD Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2018/1807 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union ensures:
- the free flow of non-personal data across borders: it lays down a framework for storing and processing data anywhere in the EU, and for placing localisation restrictions on non-personal data;
- the availability of data for regulatory control: competent authorities will obtain access to data in order to perform their official duties regardless of where within the EU the data are stored.
The Regulation also encourages the development of self-regulatory codes of conduct for cloud services in order to facilitate the switching of providers and contribute to a greater trust among entities.
For the implementation of the FFD Regulation, the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Decree on the implementation of the Regulation (EU) on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union (implementing regulation). In accordance with the adopted FFD Regulation, the Ministry of Public Administration performs the functions of a single point of contact. It provides general information on the FFD Regulation and is in contact with the points of single contact of other EU Member States and the European Commission for the purposes of applying the FFD Regulation.
The Ministry of Public Administration is also the online single information point and posts information about national requirements for localisation of non-personal data imposed by the legislation and general provisions. Pursuant to the implementing regulation, all responsible ministries ortheir bodies shall make publicly available via this online single information point all the details on any non-personal data localisation requirements imposed in their domain in a law, regulation or administrative provision of a general nature.
On the basis of the EU strategic document Artificial Intelligence for Europe and the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence, Slovenia started preparing a National Programme for the Promotion of Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Republic of Slovenia by 2025 (NpUI), which will include specific measures and indicators, instruments for implementation and financing. By adopting and implementing the national programme in an efficient and timely manner, Slovenia will improve its existing national support scheme for AI activities. It will target the stakeholders from the State, businesses, academic sphere, professional associations and non-governmental organisations.
As artificial intelligence is a multidisciplinary field, the inter-ministerial working group has been established for preparation of the national programme consisting of representatives of several ministries and government offices. Outside experts and representatives of external stakeholders were also invited to join the inter-ministerial working group (Slovenian Digital Coalition, Slovenian Artificial Intelligence Society, Slovenia’s digital ambassador, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Strategic Research and Innovation Partnership – Smart Cities and Communities, Strategic Research and Innovation Partnership – Factories of the Future, Jožef Stefan Institute, Faculty of Computer and Information Science of the University of Ljubljana and others).
The Ministry of Public Administration prepared the first draft of NpUI in the spring of 2020. In the summer, the ministry collected opinions from all members of the inter-ministerial working group and larger stakeholder community, which have been integrated in the new version of the document (opinions were submitted by twelve ministries and government offices, six outside experts and three stakeholders from the business and research sectors). The second draft of the programme, which is currently at the final stage of preparation, is expected to be finished by end of 2020 and submitted for approval to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia at the beginning of the 2021.
Slovenia is becoming a major player in field of blockchain development at the European and global level. The Slovenian Digital Coalition has a workgroup for blockchain and the Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia, which combines different stakeholders from the business sector, research and academic sphere, non-governmental organisations etc., was also established. In May 2018, the Action plan for preparation of the bases for an accelerated implementation of blockchain technology and creation of an adequate environment for accelerated cryptocurrencies regulation in relevant regulatory areas was adopted. Due to the action plan, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology was recognised as the leading ministry for blockchain development and a promoter of blockchain startup solutions.
Internet of Things (IoT)
In the Development Strategy for an Information Society by 2020, the Internet of Things is highlighted as a technological priority. The concept of the Internet of Things is connecting devices with built-in sensors to the internet and allowing the devices to communicate with one another and exchange data, on the basis of which they can make decisions and function. In terms of content, priorities of the strategy are smart cities and communities. The aim of using Internet of Things technologies in towns and communities is to develop a connected intelligence system which will support economic activities, increase the population's satisfaction with public services, contribute towards public security, sustainable management of the environment, more efficient urban governance and tackling of other challenges that towns and communities face.
Smart cities and communities
The digitalisation of cities and communities involves social, economic, urban, mobility, educational, technological and cultural changes. Cities and communities are becoming launch pad for the digital transformation of society as a whole.
A smart city or community is able to effectively manage resources to meet social, economic and environmental needs for the benefit of the citizens. This is a challenging task, as cities and communities are often organised by individual areas and are rarely managed as a whole entity. In addition, decision-makers usually do not have a real-time insight into what is happening in a city or community nor high-quality aggregated data on the basis of which to make decisions.
The strategic management of the digital transformation of cities and communities is based on long-term development strategies and development partnerships that enable unhindered cooperation between local communities, economic sectors and value chains. The unplanned implementation of digital technologies can, from the outset, greatly reduce the potential for reaping the benefits based on:
- integration, openness and accessibility,
- use of standard solutions;
- rules of interoperability;
- big data analysis;
- sharing digital infrastructure.
The Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Ljubljana and the Strategic Research and Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities publish a wide range of materials and proposed solutions on the topic of smart cities and communities on their websites. In 2020, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering carried out an analysis of the situation regarding municipalities' digitalisation, which shows the current state by individual municipalities in Slovenia.
The internet is an omnipresent communication network of information sources that fundamentally changes the way in which our modern society functions by providing easy access to a wide range of topics and services. In a globalised world, it is an effective means of communication for the free flow of information, which has markedly changed the channels the modern world uses to communicate. That is why internet access and the use of its services are generally understood as a human right in the 21st century.
Slovenian Digital Coalition – digitalna.si
The Slovenian Digital Coalition – digitalna.si is an coordinating and consultative open forum of equal stakeholders and operating in the field of digitisation of entrepreneurship and the private sector, smart towns, electronic commerce, e-skills, e-inclusion, cybersecurity, internet and, where necessary, in other fields of the development of digital society.
The coalition is responsible for harmonising the digital transformation of Slovenia in accordance with the Digital Slovenia 2020 strategic document and in collaboration with stakeholders from the business sector, education and research, civil society and public sector.
Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH)
A Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) is an organisation or a coordinated group of organisations with complementary expert knowledge acting as non-profit support for companies, especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the public sector, in their digital transformation.
The purpose of innovation hubs is to ensure the required international competitiveness of the European area in the implementation of the digital transformation. A DIH provides support to companies, state administration and also citizens – in short to everyone who implements either new approaches, models and processes or services and products by employing advanced technologies. For digital innovation hubs to fulfil their purpose, it is key that they are close to their users; therefore their geographical distribution across both European and national areas, with at least one hub in each country, in addition to the sectoral orientation is sensible. At the national level, it is important that the hub operates in accordance with the adopted developmental bases and that its activities primarily target the existing gaps. For more information about current DIH contents, visit the European Commission’s website.
In Slovenia, establishing DIHs is not a regulated activity, so compliance with special criteria or registration procedures is not required to establish a digital innovation hub. According to data from the European Commission, which keeps a catalogue of digital innovation hubs in Europe, there are currently ten digital innovation hubs in Slovenia. The Slovenian DIHs were established as a response to different needs and opportunities and therefore targeted those fields where the demands of the environment were the greatest and, where necessary, are specialised for individual economic sectors.
As digitalisation is important – indeed essential –, a network of stakeholders (local, regional and national) should be appropriately established, providing support mechanisms to enable access to knowledge and means to test the developed solutions. By such cooperation we can reach all parts of Slovenian society and encourage companies to develop solutions for different categories of the population. An open partnership, supported by innovation activities, is key for Slovenia and its development. Even the recent situation and the measures for combating the COVID-19 epidemic has shown that digitally developed countries have an advantage over others. People in digitally more developed countries were able to continue leading their habitual lives more successfully and with less difficulty than those in digitally less developed ones. The search for contactless solutions and remote access solutions (especially in the service sector) has brought about a widespread use of various digital technologies and innovations. It has turned out that digital technologies have been the key to the operation of some parts of the system, and we can therefore expect that digitalisation will continue to be a big part of our lives in the future.
European Information Society Programmes
Women in Digital
In times of accelerated development of advanced technologies, one of the important aspects of the empowerment of women is their digital skills and education.
Encouraging results from the latest study by the European Commission, Women in the Digital Age show that Slovenian women rank above the EU average and are better digitally educated than their European counterparts. We attribute the results to a good educational system and numerous projects for the promotion of digital competences.
The contact point at the Ministry of Public Administration is consistent with the Women in Digital’ Declaration and promotes and implements the following measures:
- create a national strategy to encourage women’s participation in digital;
- encourage broadcasters to promote a positive public image of women in digital;
- establish a European Girls and Women in ICT Day;
- stimulate companies to combat gender discrimination at work;
- advance a gender-balanced composition of boards, committees and bodies dealing with digital matters.
Active Assisted Living Programme – AAL
The European Union recognised information and communication technologies as a key element in tackling challenges posed by an ageing population. Participation of the European Union in the AAL2 Joint Programme (Active Assisted Living Programme) is fundamental to the use of information and communication technologies for active, independent, quality and healthy ageing.
The AAL2 multiannual research programme is a continuation of the AAL1 programme from 2008, launched by 20 Member States and 3 associate countries. In accordance with the Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the European Union participates in the programme in order to ensure a significant financial contribution through the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
The programme focuses on applied research whereby products and services for the elderly that are based on information and communication technologies could be marketed in two to three years. The participating countries of the AAL2 programme are also its principal owners.
AAL solutions range from well-known products such as pendants that trigger an alarm, pill reminders or activity reminders, to more advanced solutions, e.g. smart living spaces, smart products or digital information services.
The contact point at the Ministry of Public Administration was established in accordance with the provisions of the cooperation agreement between the Republic of Slovenia and the AAL international association, and is responsible for the implementation of joint work programmes and international calls for applications, the establishment of a joint annual budget and budgetary controls, and the selection and implementation of projects, as well as joint financing of selected projects and other activities arising from international consortium agreements. It also provides support to the AAL association in semi-annual reports, audits and preparation of interim and final reports of Slovenian applicants.
EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP)
The Macro-regional strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) involves Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and France, and provides a framework that will enable all countries, regions and respective stakeholders and institutions to develop cross-border strategic approaches, international projects, integration and cooperation for the benefit of the whole region. The EUSALP objective is to reduce regional disparities and at the same time create synergies for growth and development in these countries. Due to its geographical position, Slovenia is part of the Alpine Region, one of the most economically developed regions in Europe. By participating in EUSALP, the Republic of Slovenia wishes to share its expertise with other members and at the same time learn from their knowledge and experiences. EUSALP has nine action groups. The Ministry of Public Administration participates in the 5th action group, the objective of which is to connect people electronically and promote accessibility to public services.
In the 5th action group, the SmartVillages project is already underway. The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Maribor is leading the project from Slovenia as a project partner. The focus of the project is the digitisation of villages, which will stimulate the development of services, entrepreneurship and social innovation thus improving living and working conditions in mountainous and rural areas. The project contributes to the improvement of conditions for innovation development in two aspects – one is the organisational and societal aspect, which with the establishment of Regional Stakeholder Groups (RSG) and cooperation among them brings together policy makers, business, academia and civil society, and the other is the technological aspect, which provides for the creation of a Digital Exchange Platform and elaboration of a Toolbox to access new digital tools. Project results and their transfer to a political level will significantly improve policy frameworks and conditions for the development of digital innovations.