- Published: 12 October 2023
ITU News talks to Mateusz Morawiecki, Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.
Q: What is your vision for Poland’s digital future at the European level and beyond?
Poland is already among Europe’s fastest-developing countries and is rapidly bridging the digital divide.
Increased availability of e-services via our governmental portal (gov.pl) helped Polish citizens get through the time of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we have continued digitalizing more public services, making them accessible for all, especially for people with disabilities.
The pre-COVID April 2019 Act on Web Accessibility requires all electronic services to comply with accessibility requirements.
Another excellent example is our open data policy. Poland rose from seventh place in 2019 to third place in 2022 in the annual EU Open Data Maturity study.
Each month, thanks to our digitalized public health system, more than 2 million prescriptions are exchanged between healthcare facilities and pharmacies without using a single piece of paper.
People now use their phones for most banking and payment transactions, which stimulates business and helps tighten our tax system.
And the mObywatel app – now downloaded to more than 10 million devices – gives citizens a digital, legally honoured version of their ID, driver’s license, car registration and other personal documents. You don’t have to carry them in your wallet anymore. All you need is a smartphone.
We are proud of giving our citizens fully digitized solutions. In doing so, we’re also carrying out the European Union’s Digital Decade Strategy, aiming for everyone in Poland to acquire practical digital skills for school, work, social life, business and other daily activities.
Q: What national-level actions or strategies are advancing Poland’s digitalization? Can you share any recent cases or examples?
Connectivity came first. Without that, people could not access e-services or develop their digital skills. The National Broadband Plan – set out in 2014 and updated in 2020 – envisages ultra-fast broadband access for all citizens and enterprises no later than in 2025.
In line with this goal, we have provided publicly co-funded Internet connections for about a quarter of Polish households, mainly in less prosperous areas. Our new Operational Programme of Digital Skills, adopted just over six months ago, focuses on children, along with teachers and other users needing support to make meaningful use of connectivity.
After this is implemented, we are confident that 80 per cent of our citizens will possess basic digital skills, with about half of those reaching intermediate or expert levels. We also aim to boost digital engagement and expertise among girls and women.
Our open data strategy promotes proactive public data sharing and brings useful information together through one service.
Going forward, our plans will remain aligned with the EU Digital Decade, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, and guidelines set out by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Q: What challenges does Poland face in accelerating national digitalization?
While rolling out telecommunications infrastructure is one thing, the key challenge relates to improving digital skills for everyone, regardless of age or occupation. Digital transformation is possible only if it includes us all.
Since 2017, public e-services have attracted more and more users, so that by last year they accounted for nearly a quarter of government services in Poland.
Q: What role could 5G and 6G networks, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and the metaverse play in Poland’s digital future?
New technologies depend on fast, reliable mobile connectivity. Poland is currently holding an auction for the 3.4-3.8 gigahertz (GHz) radio frequency band and will soon start consultations on allocating 700 megahertz (MHz) for 5G purposes. Additional spectrum is being opened to meet the needs of local industries in the 3.8-4.2 GHz band.
Already, 5G networks and AI have enabled unprecedented automatization in Polish industry. Industry 4.0 solutions could strengthen Polish industrial capabilities as the size of our workforce diminishes.
5G is, and 6G will be, vital to maximize the benefits of IoT technologies. We will also look closely at augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) as educational and skills-building tools, and at automated mobility. Just like 4G gave rise to mobile applications, 5G will support smart city applications and a tech-friendly environment that produces new solutions.
In the 6G era, spectrum needs will keep growing, thanks to immersive multimedia and integrated, AI-supported sensing. While 6G may require new regulatory models, we need to follow the best practices established with 5G, such as license exemptions or lightly licensed spectrum to offload some traffic. Non-terrestrial networks could help extend coverage to underserved areas and ensure our global connectivity for logistics and transport.
Q: What elements are needed for a systemic digital transformation?
Digital transformation is a very complex process, and we must remain aware of its benefits as well as the risks it brings. Our initiatives require a human-centric approach.
To widen our future skills base, we have extended digital access to Poland’s youngest citizens. Every fourth-grade student gets a brand-new laptop. We will install local area network (LAN) and intranet connections to support remote learning from at least 100,000 Polish classrooms, and to build 16,000 AI, environmental and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) labs.
We recognize ITU as a great global platform for exchanges of knowledge and best practices. We especially appreciate ITU’s guidelines for child online protection.
In your view, how can ITU support sustainable digitalization in Poland?
As a Member State on the current ITU Council, Poland is vigorously promoting ITU’s work, both domestically and internationally, to foster technology standardization and inclusive, sustainable digital development.
We value green digital transformation initiatives and would appreciate more specific guidance from ITU on how to measure the climate impact of digital technologies.
What are Poland’s priorities in terms of sustainable digital development over the next five years?
In line with our human-centric approach, accessibility in e-services is most essential. We also wish to keep improving digital skills.
Another key task for us is to minimize climate impact. The EU Digital Decade provides valuable guidance as we update our National Integrated Informatisation Programme (PZIP).
To achieve our ambitious goals and ensure sustainable transformation, we will create a new EU-aligned national data governance framework. As our competence grows further, we wish to establish a broad data-sharing culture based on trust, principal values, and human rights.
Quelle/Source: ITU, 05.10.2023