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Swedish government launches accelerated digitisation plan

The Swedish government has launched a four-year plan which will help to digitally transform the country’s public sector

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Sweden’s new centre-right government has launched a €1bn infrastructure plan to drive digital transformation and capital investment in public administration, business and society.

The four-year plan is focused on accelerating the pace of digital transformation in key areas of government and public services, including education, transportation, healthcare and national security.

Known as the Digital Transformation Infrastructure Plan (DTIP), it is based on technology-driven capital investment proposals made by the Moderate Party ahead of Sweden’s parliamentary elections in September last year.

The proposals were advanced and further deepened during the post-election government formation talks led by the Moderates. The outcome of the negotiations produced a three-party coalition headed by the Moderates, including the Christian Democrats and Liberal parties, supported by the right-wing Sweden Democrats from the opposition benches.

The underlying framework for the project was established when prime minister Ulf Kristersson’s new government took office on 18 October 2022. The DTIP will be implemented in collaboration with the Agency for Digital Government (ADG/Myndigheten för Digital Förvaltning), the state body tasked with coordinating and supporting the digitisation of public administration in Sweden. The ADG’s assigned mission gives it the authority to oversee all major digital infrastructure projects.

“Our digital priorities cover core areas of state administration and public services, including Sweden’s school system which will be improved by the introduction of digital national tests corrected centrally under an accelerated programme. Our primary focus is to introduce a common national digital infrastructure to support our digital transformation journey,” said Kristersson.

“Digital transformation faces complex challenges in Sweden. One of the challenges is finding the skills to make the digital transition a valuable and sustainable component of the economy”
Åsa Zetterberg, TechSverige

The government’s commitment to driving accelerated transformation, through the DTIP, has been broadly welcomed by Sweden’s digital community.

“Digital transformation faces complex challenges in Sweden. It is good to have a government plan to help take us where we need to go as a more digitised society. One of the challenges, for both the private and public sectors, is finding the skills to make the digital transition a valuable and sustainable component of the economy,” said Åsa Zetterberg, director of TechSverige, a member organisation that represents 1,400 enterprises with 100,000 employees in the technology sector.

The current shortage of digital skills is regarded as one of the most significant obstructions to growth for tech companies in Sweden. TechSverige estimates that companies will need to employ between 70,000 and 100,000 people to secure and progress their digitisation plans up to 2024.

However, the lack of digital skills risks “putting the brake on” the ambitious growth plans of technology companies and other enterprises in Sweden, Zetterberg said.

“Right now, companies in the tech sector are finding it difficult to recruit all the skills they require. This hinders their development and the opportunity to do more business,” she said.

To address the digital skills deficit, TechSverige rolled out its Addera tech campaign to attract more talent, including college graduates, to the industry.

“The tech industry has become an increasingly important part of society. It is a prerequisite for economic development, employment, climate adaptation and future prosperity. It’s a broader space that we used to call IT and telecoms. The enlarged industry now includes computer games, healthtech, fintech and edtech companies. They all need more digital talent to grow and reach their full potential,” Zetterberg said.

The increased funding being made available will enable the ADG to better resource key projects. These include an initiative to establish a common administrative digital infrastructure that delivers information transfer in a more secure and efficient manner. Additionally, the ADG is developing a national framework for basic data.

A number of core digital transformation initiatives, covered by the DTIP, fall under the Swedish government’s Project ENA, which is run by the ADG and functions as a collaboration between 12 state organisations. These include the employment, companies, courts, tax, transport, statistics and e-health agencies, along with the Insurance Land Surveyors’ Office and the Swedish National Archives.

ENA’s main role is to develop new joint digital solutions for the country’s public administration systems, said Joakim Nyström, a senior digital delivery manager with the ENA project.

“We are working to achieve clear targets. Delivering joint solutions provides wider advantages to public administration actors. Everyone benefits by having access to a coherent common administrative digital infrastructure that can be used to solve basic common administrative needs,” Nyström said.

Research conducted by the ADG suggests that a well-developed national digital infrastructure offering has the capacity to produce efficiency benefits and savings for public and private companies and organisations totalling SEK10bn (€890m) over 10 years.

“The most important factor relating to digital infrastructure is that the emphasis has shifted from dealing with analyses to the development of national components that more enterprises and people can use. As the different components are launched and start to be used, the infrastructure will also start to create cost savings and efficiency benefits,” said Nyström.

The increase in capital funding from the DTIP is intended to strengthen the ADG’s ability to accelerate high-value research work to analyse the optimum conditions under which Sweden’s municipalities and regions can participate and gain from the proposed shared administrative digital infrastructure. One of the principal objectives here is to fast-track the digitisation of Sweden’s public welfare systems and services by 2026.

The ADG launched a digital dashboard research tool in December 2022 to help enterprises and private individuals measure and analyse their engagement with public authorities and society at large. The free-to-use test beta version of the tool allows public authorities and private individuals to calculate and analyse the level of their engagement with the “digital society”.

“From the feedback we get on the tool, we gain access to large amounts of data that will allow us to create benefits within a broader range of reference. This collected data can be useful for public authorities themselves, educational institutions and the media,” said Magdalena Norlin-Schönfeldt, the ADG’s head of analysis.

The value-added nature of the ADG’s digital analysis tool, which incorporates an advanced metadata function, means users can also access and use the data as part of research projects or to join commercial collaboration partnerships that are relevant to the public authorities’ digital business development.

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