Coronavirus edges Greece nearer to e-governance

The coronavirus disaster has pressured Greece to take speedy steps to computerise its lumbering civil service and belatedly introduce e-governance in one of many EU’s worst digital laggards, specialists say.

After recording its first coronavirus dying on March 12, Athens took unprecedented measures completely at odds with its earlier love affair with paperwork and pink tape.

Diomidis Spinellis, head of the division of administration science and expertise on the Athens college of Economics, says that the Covid-19 disaster “accelerated” Greece’s digital flip — although critics say the nation has a protracted approach to go.

Between March 23 and Might 4, when a nationwide lockdown was imposed, Greeks had been required to tell authorities when leaving their houses. A particular SMS service was launched for these unable to print a particular kind created by the federal government.

Ultimately, some 110 million messages had been despatched freed from cost throughout this era, in an initiative praised by the OECD.

The federal government additionally rolled out, an internet platform combining all public companies and simplifying on-line entry.

Greece’s minister of digital governance Kyriakos Pierrakakis mentioned the platform freed hundreds of customers — particularly high-risk teams — from having to show up at public companies, as they had been now in a position to signal paperwork digitally.

Beforehand at civil companies “bodily attendance (by the general public) was the norm and distant exercise the exception,” Pierrakakis advised AFP.


In 2019, Greece was among the many EU’s laggards in digital efficiency, rating 25th within the Digital Economic system and Society Index printed by the European Fee.

That very same 12 months, about 20 % of the lively inhabitants had no entry to the Web, practically double the EU common of 10 % in keeping with Eurostat figures.

Nikos Smyrnaios, an affiliate professor of digital media on the college of Toulouse, mentioned the 2010-2018 Greek debt disaster had already pressured the nation to overtake its “archaic” civil service, however the course of was usually “haphazard.”

“Let’s hope the development would not come to a halt as soon as we’re out of this emergency,” mentioned Spinellis.

Not all the things has gone in keeping with plan.

On Might 11, the federal government confronted criticism after massive crowds gathered outdoors the principle Athens places of work of just-reopened state electrical energy firm PPC to settle payments.

Officers later insisted that prospects had acquired ample warning that almost all transactions might be dealt with on-line or by phone.

Many customers have lamented a scarcity of community bandwidth, whereas noting that their very own houses couldn’t be became workplace work areas on the flick of a change when the lockdown was imposed in March.

“We’re celebrating the disappearance of the fax in 2020,” jeers Dimitris Tsingos, a tech entrepreneur and founding father of the Hellenic startup affiliation.


“There are efforts by the federal government however it’s hardly revolutionary… there may be nonetheless numerous work to be achieved,” he mentioned.

Diamanto Zafiraki, a 38-year-old economic system ministry worker, has her private laptop computer to work with, however has to share along with her eight-year-old twins when it is time for homework.

“I haven’t got a devoted work space at house. I work from my kitchen, utilizing gear that’s not made for this function,” she mentioned.

Zafiraki additionally often battles sluggish connection and software program glitches.

“This takes up numerous my time and vitality, and work with colleagues is rather more tough at a distance,” she says.

With hundreds of faculty pupils at house due to the lockdown, the method of schooling continued on-line primarily as a result of initiative and persistence of the academics themselves, says Thanasis Goumas, a senior member of the academics’ affiliation.

“The schooling ministry gave neither pointers nor gear throughout this era,” Goumas advised AFP.

Goumas additionally notes that many faculty pupils do not have a pc at house, or an web connection.

And there was uproar amongst trainer unions earlier this month when the schooling ministry introduced that cameras could be arrange in courses throughout educating hours, to allow pupils not attending faculty to observe programs from house.

“The federal government claims this helps distance studying, however (colleges) will not be actuality reveals. We’re utterly towards this,” Goumas mentioned, citing a potential violation of privateness rights.

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