DE4A is about more than technology. When we say digital we normally think about technology. But when we refer to digital across Europe we cannot limit our thinking to technological issues. We must think with a broader more comprehensive perspective. We must think how multiple autonomous heterogeneous self-sovereign states can fully cooperate to provide cross-border life- event services to their citizens, despite cultural and linguistical semantic differences, unique political and organizational processes, governance and legislation idiosyncrasies and besides technology gaps.
DE4A is collaborating and co- creating. It takes a joint effort to make an inventory of the current eGovernment landscape. Also, it takes a common interest in defining the catalog of building blocks and patterns addressing all business needs. And this co-creation isn’t limited to public administrations but also includes private entities.
DE4A thinks about leveling the playing field. There are huge differences in players. Some are
mature, others have just started. Some have huge amounts of money at their disposal for
technological and processes improvement and others don’t. Some have high complexity to tackle even in their own state, such as multiple languages or multiple autonomous administrative regions. Some have subject-matter experts to rely on and others don’t. There is such a mental energy waste when designing a system from scratch. Building blocks preclude such a waste and leverage on the law of large numbers, enabling us to find the required expertise among the larger pool of European citizens. It relies on scale economies, on once only research, design and build. And then on having a catalog of building blocks, patterns and assembly instructions, from where to pick a more affordable tested ready-to-assemble takeaway solution.
DE4A can be a turning point. Gutenberg’s printing press “facilitated the wide circulation of
information and ideas”(1) by making documents available to a broader audience than the privileged audience hand-copied manuscripts had. The internet made accessible content previously available only in university classrooms, in books which not everyone
could afford, or in libraries not everyone had physical access to. And just as Gutenberg’s printing press was instrumental in the expansion and democratization of knowledge, building blocks play a central role in extending the Digital Single Market (DSM) in a truly democratic and accessible way to all. DE4A can increase data flow rate by defining semantically compatible structured data flows. DE4A can make obsolete physical presence and paper- based documents transfer by enabling the connection of European wide life- event services.
Will we be ready? Imagine the Coronavirus COVID-19 had hit Europe after DE4A. Would we have been able to request any life-event service home-based or using our mobile?
Would we have been able to use zero knowledge proof to evidence share, without disclosing personal medical records when using services and transportation? Would we have trusted distributed data sources on intel? Would data have flowed fast enough to enlarged scientific communities enabling for better forecasting, provision and further drug advancement? Will we be equipped for adapting, implementing and changing fast enough for the next challenge?
(1) Elizabeth Lewisohn Eisenstein