7 The white paper in brief

7.1 Part I Background: Development, trends and international comparisons

Part I describes the Government's key objectives and priorities in its ICT policy. It also discusses key development trends and presents international comparisons.

The Government holds high ambitions for modernising, simplifying and improving the public sector, while citizens and business and industry are expecting solutions that will simplify everyday life. By using ICT and taking full advantage of the opportunities that digitisation offers, we can achieve both these goals.

The priorities stated in the national ICT policy are affected by international trends. ICT policy therefore constitutes an important area for international cooperation.

Many studies have examined the significance of ICT for economic value creation. Although historically it has been difficult to quantify ICT's contribution to productivity growth, the conclusion is that ICT has made, and continues to make, significant contributions to increased productivity and economic growth.

In its first report, the Productivity Commission emphasised that expanded and improved use of technology would be decisive for increasing productivity in both the public sector and industry (NOU 2015: 1). While the Productivity Commission acknowledges that the oil sector will continue to be important in the Norwegian economy, over time Norway will have to make the transition to a more knowledge-based economy. Such restructuring will necessitate ICT playing a key role.

Norway is a digitally mature market. A substantial proportion of the population has access to internet, and a large proportion of these use the internet on a daily basis. Several service industries, such as banking, finance and tourism, have come a long way in digitising their business processes and have achieved huge efficiency gains as a result. Norway has also succeeded in many areas in its efforts to digitise public services. Government agencies and municipalities increasingly offer digital services, and the use of these services is growing dramatically.

Norway generally scores high in international rankings of ICT development. Nonetheless, the rapid pace of development means that we must constantly improve in order to keep up with the best and to take even more advantage of the potential that lies in digitisation for restructuring and increasing productivity.

7.2 Part II ICT policy for a user-centric and efficient public administration

Digitisation can generate significant productivity gains, and this represents a significant improvement potential that must be exploited. Part II of the white paper discusses how the Government will enable the public sector to realise these gains through a stronger, more strategic initiative. Through this white paper the Government is launching an accelerated pace of digitisation and higher ambitions. The Government is putting user needs at the forefront. Services shall be perceived as integrated and cohesive.

Public agencies have different starting points for digitisation. Many sectors have come a long way in their digitisation efforts, but generally much remains to be done. In this white paper the Government declares its intention to strengthen the digital-by-default strategy and continue the efforts towards digital self-service and what is often referred to as automated case processing. This entails, for example, that decisions can be made and services provided without inhabitants having to apply for them. The Government wants systematic work to be done to this end. The sectors must identify how the digital-by-default strategy can best be executed in their respective areas and prepare specific plans for doing so.

Improved digital services are contingent on the public administration's strengthening its efforts in the area of information management. It could also generate considerable economic gains. Instead of having to repeatedly ask users for information they have already provided to public administration, such information would only need to be provided once. To make this work in practice, public administration must have a better overview of the information it has, and this white paper launches several initiatives to facilitate this.

This work also requires public administration to reuse information or solutions that meet the needs of multiple agencies. The white paper affirms that central and local government and the respective sectors should use common systems for creating user-friendly and seamless digital services. The white paper also presents strategic principles that should underpin this work. Facilitating interoperability with solutions in other countries is also important. This can be achieved through Norway's participating in the EU programme CEF Digital, which supports the establishment of a common European digital infrastructure.

Most public-sector services are municipal. The white paper therefore expects government agencies to take more responsibility for developing services that can also be used by the municipal sector. Difi and the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities will play a key role in facilitating this. The white paper also sets out national priorities and a road map for promoting digital solutions in the health and care sector.

The white paper describes its strategic approach to the governance and coordination of digitisation activities. The Government wants each sector to continue to have responsibility for its own strategy development using digitisation as a tool. At the same time, Difi will be strengthened as a coordinating body in the public sector, in cooperation with other key actors such as the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities and The Brønnøysund Register Centre.

The Government sees a need for national measures to achieve increased digitisation of tasks that need to be performed across public administration, and launches a number of initiatives in the white paper to support this. In many areas government agencies will have greater collective expertise and more resources than, for example, an individual municipality. Government agencies are therefore better equipped to drive and coordinate the work on developing good digital services across different administrative levels.

A conservative estimate of ICT procurements in the public sector in 2014 is put at NOK 16.6 billion21. It is important to secure the best possible returns on these investments. Creating more professionalised digitisation projects in the public sector is a key element to this end. Such professionalisation will also help stimulate innovation within industry.

To help government agencies succeed with their digitisation projects, the Government has in 2016 established the Digitisation Council. It will provide quality assurance in all phases of digitisation projects and help ensure that fewer projects overrun their budgets. A new co-financing scheme for government digitisation projects has also been established in 2016. This is an incentive initiative to speed up the pace of digitisation and realise actual benefits.

7.3 Part III ICT policy for value creation and inclusion

Part III describes how the digital economy can contribute to growth and employment. The Government will make it possible for Norway to exploit the opportunities for value creation and innovation which ICT usage offers by adapting regulations, creating favourable framework conditions and removing obstacles.

The challenges linked to the internet are universal, and international cooperation is imperative for ICT policy to succeed. The EU has established an efficient market for physical goods and services in which Norway participates. However, several obstacles remain to the free flow of digital services across national borders, a situation which the EU is addressing by developing a strategy for the digital single market (Digital Single Market strategy). The EU's strategy for a digital single market constitutes an important basis for this white paper.

The Government emphasise the importance of digitisation and digital technology for the general development of society, on its ability to innovate, and on ensuring that future opportunities for increased productivity and economic growth be exploited to support the restructuring process which the Norwegian economy must undergo at the end of the oil age. The Government will therefore make it easier for us to exploit and understand data-driven innovation and technology so that we can reap the benefits and manage the challenges. Examples are the growth of the sharing economy, re-use of public sector information, use of big data and development of smart cities.

To respond to these developments, the government must keep up with the rapid pace of innovation and facilitate growth of new innovative products and services. This applies not least to the sharing economy, where the Government is concerned about findingand finding the right balance between taking account of important societal values and opening the door to innovation. In this connection it is important to be cautious about imposing regulations and obligations on new sharing services that may limit their potential for innovation and economic growth.

Although the level of ICT usage in the Norwegian population is high, many individuals for various reasons are unable to participate in the digital development. One of the key priorities in the ICT policy is increased digital competence and inclusion. From primary education up through all life phases, digital competence shall be improved to ensure inclusion to and confidence in digital solutions. The universal design of ICT is based on the idea that digital services should be accessible to everyone, regardless of age, functional ability or level of education, and is a key element of the Government's ICT policy.

To avoid a digital divide in the population, the Government believes that all municipalities should provide a guidance service to inhabitants who need help with digital inclusion. This could be incorporated into guidance services offered by public libraries, municipal services offices or by municipal specialist units. The white paper affirms the Government's plan to enter into a cooperation agreement with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities on such a concept. The concept will be developed in cooperation with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities and relevant government agencies that administer multiple citizen-centric services. The health and care sector faces major challenges in the coming years. The white paper affirms the Government's intention to facilitate expanded use of welfare technology and mobile health technology to enhance users' coping abilities in everyday life and to make better use of health and care service resources.

Digitisation has had major economic and structural consequences for the media industry. Technology development also creates new challenges in, for example, copyright law and regulation of the media, areas where the Government is engaged in ongoing processes.

ICT competence and ICT research constitute fundamental preconditions for the digitisation of Norway. Compulsory education must therefore be prepared to provide training in effectively using ICT and in the creative potential of ICT. High-quality ICT research helps ensure Norway's competence in and access to new ideas in Norwegian industry and public administration and thereby creates favourable conditions both for new business start-ups and for increased industrial productivity.

Digital development challenges established principles of data protection. On the other hand, new technology also offers opportunities to strengthen data protection. Personal data are registered and stored in increasingly larger volumes, making them more easily accessible and easier to combine with other data. Sound data protection is one of the key priorities in the Government's ICT policy. Data privacy protection shall be an integrated part of ICT development and use. The Government will ensure that citizens have, as far as possible, control over their own data. Processing of personal data shall be based on sound proportionality considerations according to purpose.

Most critical infrastructure and functions today are digitised. This situation creates new vulnerabilities. Digitisation has made different areas of society mutually dependent, making the situation more complex. A fundamental condition therefore is that digital systems be secure and reliable and that agencies and private individuals must be confident that the systems and networks work as they should. Information security shall be maintained using a risk-based approach based on updated threat and vulnerability assessments, and shall be monitored by a sound system of internal controls.

7.4 Part IV National plan for electronic communication: Electronic communication for increased productivity and a simpler everyday life

The Storting has asked the Government to produce a national electronic communications plan. The Storting's request presents a timely opportunity for the Government to present important elements of the electronic communications policy. The plan therefore discusses more topics than those requested by the Storting.

The Government presents a national plan for electronic communications that will create favourable conditions for competition and innovation and that will also ensure that people throughout the country receive secure and high-quality services. The electronic communications policy must be flexible to tackle rapid changes. At the same time we must ensure secure electronic communication services for all users and stable market conditions for electronic communication service providers who annually invest heavily in faster mobile and broadband networks throughout the country.

High-quality electronic communications promotes increased productivity and a simpler everyday life. Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the way electronic communication services are produced and, not least, in how people use the services. Fixed-line telephones are rapidly being replaced by mobile phones and social media. New net-based services are challenging both service providers and the electronic communications authority. The Government wants to see the establishment of regulatory principles such as minimum regulation, technology neutrality and predictable framework conditions. Simultaneously, regulation should allow for the major changes the industry is currently experiencing.

The Government will work to ensure that the internet continues to be open and non-discriminatory for all types of communication and content distribution.

The service obligation for telephony services has been a core element of electronic communications policy for many years to ensure that all households and businesses throughout the country receive a minimum level of electronic communication services. Telenor has been obligated to provide services such as telephony, digital lines, public pay phones, telephone directories, and services for the disabled and other end users with special needs. Several of the services under this obligation are no longer in demand or have been replaced by new services. The Government is in favour of removing the service obligation for public pay phones, electronic telephone directories and the directory enquiries service. The possibility of introducing better and more effective schemes than those provided today for groups with different disabilities will also be considered. The plan also discusses whether the service obligation for traditional telephony could gradually be replaced by broadband access.

The broadband policy is important for the Government in order to achieve the objectives that have been set in several other areas of society. Access to and use of broadband in both the private and corporate market continues to grow. The Government will facilitate the continued rollout of mobile and fixed broadband services. Mobile broadband and use of electronic communication services on public transport will become an increasingly important element of broadband policy, and mobile broadband providers are currently rolling out better coverage along roads and rail lines.

Electronic communication service providers carry assets of great value to others. Electronic communication networks and services must be highly secure and robust against outages and attacks. Norway's electronic communication networks are now more secure and more stable than ever before. At the same time, society's ever increasing demand for electronic communication networks and services make security and emergency preparedness important aspects of the work of the electronic communication authority. Changes in electronic communication networks and threats against communications must be followed by changes in the way we maintain security in our electronic communication systems. Moreover, sound protection of privacy in electronic communication is vital for public confidence in electronic communication services.

Radio-frequencies is a decisive input factor for providers of mobile electronic communication services and for other critical infrastructure. Moreover, access to frequency resources is important for many different user groups, such as the cultural sector, non-profit organisations, industry, building and construction, and research. The Government will facilitate effective use of frequencies that improve the coverage of mobile services.

Governance and administration of internet infrastructure will become increasingly important in line with the growing importance of the internet for communication and commerce. The Government will work internationally to promote sound administrative principles such as openness, accountability, transparency, representation and competence in the organisations that control fundamental parts of the internet.

An increasing volume of traffic on the electronic communication networks is transmitted via automated services. A wide range of gadgets and systems that communicate with each other is already available. Sensors talk to alarm systems and heart rate monitors which in turn notify mobile phone users about the status of their home or physical health. This phenomenon is known as 'the internet of things', and is an area in rapid growth. Norway is a highly digitised country, and people are eager to try out new solutions. The Government will facilitate healthy development of the internet of things in Norway.

The Government has set the following goals for future electronic communication policy: Mobile and broadband for growth and inclusion.

  • 90 per cent of all households shall have access to at least 100 Mbit/s by 2020, based on commercial rollout in the market.
  • The long-term goal is that all households shall have access to high-speed broadband.
  • Mobile coverage where people live, work and travel.
  • Good electronic communication networks shall be a competitive advantage for business and industry nationwide.
  • The electronic communication authority shall map demand for and access to infrastructure that can be used by data centres.
  • It shall be easy to deploy broadband networks.
  • The regulations for laying broadband cables along municipal and county roads shall be as uniform as possible.
  • Electronic communication service providers shall have fast access to available frequency resources to meet their needs.

Freedom of choice for internet users

  • Users of electronic communication shall have internet access to content and applications of their choice.
  • Norway shall work internationally to keep the internet open and non-discriminatory.

Secure and robust electronic communication networks

  • Electronic communication networks and services shall be adequately protected against extreme weather conditions and failures.
  • Electronic communication networks and services shall be adequately protected against physical and logical attacks.
  • Communicating via electronic communication networks shall be safe.
  • Electronic communication networks shall be capable of providing future services for the emergency services.
  • The electronic communication authority shall advise public administration on procurements of electronic communication services for critical functions.

Regulation to promote innovation and sustainable competition

  • There shall be at least three competing mobile networks.
  • Users of electronic communication shall be given fast access to new services and technologies.
  • It shall be profitable to invest in electronic communications.
  • It shall be easy to be a customer of electronic communication services.

Footnotes

21.

Norwegian Government Agency for Financial Management, data adapted by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation. Internal ICT costs, such as sallaries to employees, are excluded.
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