U.S. sinks to sixth place in e-readiness, survey says

The United States fell from third to sixth place in an annual global survey of nations' e-readiness, largely because other countries had greater adoption of broadband Internet access, according to survey authors IBM Corp. and the Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd.

Scandinavian nations dominated the top ranks of the survey, which was published April 19. Denmark was No. 1, followed in order by the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

The e-readiness measure shows how amenable a market is to Internet-based opportunities. It takes into account:

  • Connectivity and technology infrastructure.

  • Business environment, including political stability, regulations and taxes.

  • Consumer and business adoption of e-business practices.

  • Legal and policy environment, including protection of intellectual property and level of censorship.

  • Social and cultural environment, including literacy and entrepreneurship.

  • Supporting e-services, including back-office systems and technology standards.

Despite its drop from the top of the ranking in 2000, the United States continues to make good progress in e-readiness, according to the survey. The United States dropped in the rankings because other countries are making faster progress, the survey said.

In both the United States and Canada (No. 11), about 70 percent of adults use the Internet, the telecommunications infrastructure is strong, and businesses and consumers have incorporated e-business into their lives. But to keep up with their European counterparts, North American nations must work harder. In the United States, that means increasing broadband Internet adoption, according to the survey.

That will mean reassuring a skeptical public about doing business with government online, the survey said. While U.S. agencies have pushed to put services online, such as license renewals, tax payments and agency procurement functions, many Americans are concerned about the IT security of these services, the study said.

Northern Europe and especially Scandinavian countries are adopting high-speed Internet infrastructure and advanced e-business services faster than the United States, the survey found. In Scandinavia, "citizens have incorporated Internet technology into their daily lives, completely altering how they work, shop and communicate with officials," the survey said.

European nations also have upped their e-readiness ratings because they are adopting e-government initiatives from the top down or across local governments, according to the survey.

For example, Finnish municipalities are joining together to buy and implement new electronic management systems. Electronic tax filing and payment systems for people are being rolled out concurrently in Finland, France and Spain.

IBM Corp.'s Institute of Business Value in Bethesda, Md., and the Economist Intelligence Unit, business information arm of the London-based Economist Group Ltd., published the survey.

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