The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of 18 tiny and remote islands in the North Atlantic. An autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, which already has an e-state of its own in place, they decided in favour of Estonia”s approach—for technological as well as political reasons, writes Richard Martyn-Hemphill. After more than a decade of Estonia showboating its e-governance methods to much of the world, it is no longer novel to see far larger nations than the Faroe Islands offering ample praise for Estonia”s drive to bring its interactions between government and citizens online. … Yet in the northerly Faroe Islands, officials are all in. On these craggy, windy, chilly lands where sheep outnumber the local human population of just 50, 000, the Faroese are implementing an equivalent of Estonia”s digital ID cards along with its X-Road infrastructure—a solution that enables internet voting from anywhere in the world, transferable and accessible data across ministries, and a digital identity that allows you to prove your credentials online. The Faroese rollout is expected in 2019. There are no plans as yet for an e-residency programme to follow.
For the Faroese, this will mean fishermen out at sea will be able cast their vote as they cast their dragnets. But there is still some local opposition to digitalisation in a country of defiantly independent-minded citizens, which despite technically still being part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is not part of the European Union.
Not so long ago, postmen here had to deliver letters to some parts of these islands by foot across treacherous mountain passes. That all seems worlds away now, after years spent building an ever more ambitious tunneling system beneath its iconic fjords, followed by the implementation of Chinese-backed telecommunications systems that offer reception both on- and off-shore, and all combined with a layout of broadband cables that now bring the Faroese faster internet speeds than in Singapore.