Austria is the partner country of the Smart Country Convention (SCCON) from 18 to 20 October 2022. In the run-up, Austria’s State Secretary for Digitalisation and Broadband Florian Tursky talks about Austria’s pioneering role in digital affairs and what his country can learn from others.
“The pandemic showed that digitalisation is the future. There was a demand for states and public institutions to provide online solutions. At the same time the pandemic exposed weaknesses. It was a stress test with serious consequences, but also an incredible opportunity for administrations”, said Tursky. During the pandemic Austria was especially motivated to rethink existing systems, and with the health system in particular to take a different course in order to accelerate digitalisation in administrations. That is why Tursky is delighted that in 2022 Austria is the partner country of the Smart Country Convention. After two virtual events due to the pandemic Austria can highlight the things it is particularly good at and the USPs it offers. However, at SCCON it also wants to learn from other partners and exhibitors.
Austria has done particularly well in eGovernment, said Tursky. “In Austria in the early 2000s, digitalisation in administrations received a significant boost. The country has an online finance system, which features automatic tax declarations which are used by more than six million Austrians out of a population of barely nine million.“ By comparison, in Germany in 2019, 28 million people submitted their tax declaration online – out of a population of more than 83 million. Digitalisation had also reached fantastic levels in the Austrian Ministry of Justice, said a delighted Tursky. Furthermore, in the early 2000s Austria transferred its registration system from municipal to federal level, which made digitalising the registration system much easier, said Tursky. In Austria the aim is for all registration affairs to be conducted online as of this winter. This year, Austria also wants to take a big step forward with digital identification. The Introduction of the digital driving licence is due by the end of the year – a milestone on the way to implementing digital proof of identification, Tursky said.
As in Germany, the topic of smart cities is dealt with mainly by municipalities. In that context, Tursky said big progress was being made in traffic management systems and lighting – examples of which Austria will be highlighting at SCCON in October.
In the years to come our neighbours above all want to make progress in infrastructure, which is the basis for digital solutions, said Tursky: “Already, 84 per cent of Austrian households have a 5G connection.“ By contrast, in Germany in autumn 2021, 5G was available in over 50 per cent of the country. Austria wants all dealings with public authorities to be online by 2024, and for digital identification to migrate from plastic cards to smartphones. At present, one of the biggest challenges in making all certificates available online is the task of networking the various registration databases. But that is not something citizens need worry about, said Tursky, laughing. “All they want is for things to be easier.”
For this reason, at the Smart Country Convention usability is something that Austria wants to find out about from other exhibitors and partners, for example large tech companies or other countries’ education and health systems.
Tickets to the Smart Country Convention 2022 are available free of charge until 30 September and can be obtained here from the online shop.
About Smart Country Convention
The Smart Country Convention is the leading congress for e-government, smart city and smart region. It brings together all relevant players from administration, politics, digital economy, associations and science. As a combination of congress, workshops, expo and networking, the Smart Country Convention (SCCON) is dedicated to the digitalization of cities, municipalities and public space. The focus is on both digital administration and the digitization of public services in the areas of energy, mobility, security, supply and disposal, water, education, health and housing.
In 2020 and 2021, SCCON could only take place digitally due to pandemic. In 2020, there were 10,600 participants at the digital event; in 2021, there were around 7,600.
In 2019, a total of 12,700 trade visitors came to SCCON to learn more about the latest developments in e-government and smart city, to educate themselves and to make important contacts within the industry.