NordicBaltic.Tech tracks the technology response to Covid-19 across the Nordic-Baltic region. The platform is made in partnership between the Nordic Council of Ministers and PUBLIC. This piece explores the digital approach that Latvia has taken in response to national challenges and how technology solutions are enabling a quick return to normal after Covid-19, and is a contribution from Latvian Truesix.  

Latvia has been exceptionally agile in developing solutions to challenges presented by the Covid-19 virus. At a governmental level, it has made remote governing and education possible, as well as has instituted the first nationally-endorsed contact tracing app. 

  • The Apturi Covid (eng. – Stop Covid) app built within one month has received widespread acclaim for being the first publicly launched contact tracing app built on the recent Google/Apple exposure notification API. 
  • The e-Saeima (eng. – eParliament) platform has made it possible to continue legislative functions in a lockdown reality, where existing parliamentary premises do not ensure a 2- meter distancing option. 
  • The Tava Klase (eng. – Your Class) television channels built and launched within 3 weeks enabled remote learning, engaging content, while reducing strain on working parents. 

Fast-moving government 

Latvia has been one of the countries leading the COVID-19 response, with the second-fewest deaths per capita in the European Union. This has largely been due to the government’s quick and decisive action to ensure contact tracking, social distancing, and testing availability. These values are further reflected in the decisions made to support the development of these digital solutions. 

In all cases, these digital solutions have laid within the jurisdiction of the national government. The ability to have taken the decisions to implement these solutions reflects an agile government that is able to take decisive action. 

Digitally-adept society 

The success of the applications is reflective of the digital-immersion of Latvian society. According to OECD statistics, Latvians are the 3rd most active users of mobile internet. Latvia also has the top 20 fastest internet in the world

The digital society ensures that society is open to digital innovation – both at a governmental and societal level. Making it possible to embrace contact tracing apps on smartphones, as well as digital tools for parliament and digital solutions for remote learning. 

Self-starting private sector 

In all cases, the digital solutions were initiated by the private sector. In the case of Apturi Covid, the app was built by a team of pro-bono professionals, which went on to receive a governmental endorsement. Tava Klase was an initiative by Telia Latvija that was quickly agreed upon by the  Ministry of Education. The e-Saeima initiative was suggested and developed by Possible Security, who saw a more immersive opportunity for legislative digitization than the “remote meetings” functionality that Parliament had originally ordered

All solutions are available for use in other countries, municipalities, and communities.