Liechtenstein and Switzerland scored only moderately compared to international peers in the UN international ranking of digital infrastructure. The result was not as good as many would have thought. It was a bit of a blow. According to the latest UN E-Government survey, Liechtenstein and Switzerland ended up on rank 25 and 23, respectively. That’s not a bad ranking at all; actually, it’s a good ranking. But it’s not good enough for two countries that aim to be digital frontrunners.

What’s the report about?

The United Nations E-Government Survey has been published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) since 2001. It assesses the e-government development status of all United Nations Member States relative to one another.

The authors compared the digital offerings of the 193 UN member states – for example, digital education offerings, online application portals for participation in social programs, or digital tax returns.

The survey tracks the progress of e-government development via the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI). The EGDI is a composite index based on the weighted average of three normalized indices.

  • One-third is derived from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index (TII) based on data provided by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
  • One-third from the Human Capital Index (HCI) based on data mainly provided by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
  • One-third is from the Online Service Index (OSI) based on data collected from an independent online assessment conducted by UNDESA.

Germany and Austria are better than Liechtenstein and Switzerland

At the top of the list are Denmark, Finland, and South Korea, which offer their populations the best digital infrastructure, according to the UN report. They are followed by New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland, Australia, Estonia, the Netherlands, the USA, the UK, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Malta.

Switzerland has come up slightly ahead of Liechtenstein. What might be surprising is that Germany and Austria ranked higher than Liechtenstein and Switzerland, with Austria ranking 20 and Germany ranking 22.

That is surprising because it goes somewhat against the common impression that Liechtenstein and Switzerland have made more progress regarding e-government while Germany lags. Unfortunately, the report does not present much country-specific information to assess where exactly Germany was better. The report mentions that while Liechtenstein has achieved an excellent overall EGDI score, more attention must be directed toward improving online services.

European cities come out on top

In a direct comparison of digital infrastructure in major cities, Zurich is ranked 14th. Berlin came out on top, Madrid was second, Tallinn in Estonia third, Copenhagen fourth, and Dubai fifth. That means 4 of the top 5 cities are European. Vaduz was not included in the ranking.

Also in the top ten were Moscow (6th), New York (7th), Paris (8th), Singapore (9th), and Shanghai (10th). The report thus rejects the notion that Europe lags behind digitization compared to the rest of the world.

On the whole, the level of digital offers has improved considerably, according to the authors. However, some countries still have some catching up to do.

The report is available for download here.

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