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Digitalization  30.07.2019

Digitalization, Danish Style

A garden party with friends in the summer, candlelight in winter, the Danes have a deep understanding the notion of coziness, to the extent that their word for it — hygge— has come into international use. But at the same time, the smallest country in Scandinavia area-wise is betting heavily on digitalization.

The DESI in Brussels is the ultimate yardstick for digitalization. Every year, the European Commission compiles its “Digital Economy and Society Index,” an official country ranking comparing the degree of digitalization in the EU’s member-states. Denmark held the top spot for years. But this year, the criteria were changed. Among other things, for the first time, the formula includes preparations for the new 5G wireless standard and the share of women working as IT specialists who are. The upshot: Denmark gave way to Finland in a close contest. But at 68.8 points, it is still markedly above the EU average of 52.5 points. (Germany is in the mid-range with 54.4.) The Commission especially praised Denmark for extending its broadband coverage to 99.5 percent of its households — in a country that has just five cities with over 100,000 inhabitants. Moreover, 99 percent of its households can handle LTE-based wireless reception. When it comes to connectivity, the Danes have become the European champions.

Copenhagen as a Model City

Even if Denmark’s flat countryside is independent of its data streams, its capital Copenhagen is the hub of a digital economy. Frank Jensen, who has been the city’s mayor since 2010, has nurtured this image. By applying gentle pressure, he has converted the city’s entire public administration to “e-government.” Whether they want to register a child for day-care or obtain a new passport, Danes can take care of everything from their living room couch. A social insurance number is all the identification they need. If they wish, they can even register for an SMS subscription that informs them in the evening what refuse bins are scheduled for pick-up the next day. Copenhagen is also a city that has consistently embraced sustainable mobility, with the help of digital solutions like those developed by the community-based startup “Gate 21.” Its idea is for individuals to send their personal transportation data, in permanently anonymized form, to a central server. Unlike Google’s approach to traffic, the service not only provides the current conditions, but the prognosis for the next hour as well. In any case, the Danes aren’t overly concerned about data privacy — even in their analog lives, it’s unusual for them to put up curtains or lock doors.

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Digital Education

Denmark still has room for improvement in the digital skills of its populace. The country is certainly in the top spot for Internet use, but it has a shortage of IT specialists. As part of its digital strategy, the Danes have introduced a package of tasks under its “Digital Skills for Everyone” project. The country is pouring 10 million euros into just one program to improve digital education in the primary and middle schools. Within ten years, the number of college students in mathematics, informatics, engineering and the natural sciences is supposed to increase by 20 percent.


In the current edition of our customer magazine Essential, we report on the people who are actively advancing digitalization in Denmark. Read more here.

May we invite you to take part in a study by the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich? This reader survey deals with the relevance and credibility of B2B customer magazines – in this case ESSENTIAL – to its readers, The link to the survey: www.soscisurvey.de/essential2019


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