Global Engineering Capability Review

Digital infrastructure

This category measures the ability of a country’s digital infrastructure to support and demonstrate engineering activities using three indicators, including the number of servers per 1,000,000 people and local Internet speed.

Estonia: Digital revolution

Despite ranking 37th for national Internet speed, Estonia’s ranking of 9th for both the number of servers and the Digital Adoption Index lift it to 12th place overall in the digital infrastructure category.

An early adopter of digital technology, Estonia soon became one of the most Internet-connected states in the world. Famously, the country’s digital infrastructure was the subject of a Russian attack in 2007, which temporarily disabled its Internet and banking systems. Estonia was thus a natural home for the development of the landmark Tallinn Manual between 2009 and 2012, a study on how international law applies to cyber conflicts and cybercrime. The country is still in the vanguard of digital integration, with banking, tax returns and other public services becoming fully digitised.

This focus on ICT development has contributed to Estonia’s strong global ranking for ease of doing business [30]. Heavy early investment in digital infrastructure and related systems (including the introduction of digital identity cards in the early 2000s and the recent introduction of e-residency for remote entrepreneurs) showcases Estonia’s commitment to developing a robust digital infrastructure and has enhanced the country’s business landscape.

The country has also gone to considerable lengths to nurture engineering talent in computer science, including the decision in 2012 to teach all children how to code. Estonian engineers developed the code behind Skype and TransferWise, and their successes have allowed entrepreneurs to invest in other domestic ventures [31]. In recent years, the rate of growth in the country’s information technology (IT) sector – and especially fintech – has increased dramatically (the sector’s turnover is valued at €3.6bn, and Estonia’s population is just 1.3m people), and the government’s recruitment drive has been successful in attracting software engineers and data scientists, among others, to the small country [32].

Estonian engineers developed the code behind such colossal digital applications as Skype and TransferWise

Digital infrastructure: