Tallinn. The high-tech, Baltic country of Estonia is experiencing a boom in IT-related conferences as more international event organisers are waking up to the nation's outstanding cyber credentials and top-ranked Wi-Fi infrastructure.
“On this year's calendar we've seen a whole range of technology conferences covering everything from information warfare and security to robotics, e-governance, e-identity and cyber defense,” said Kadri Karu, Managing Director of the Estonian Convention Bureau. The latest to sign up was the World Customs Organization, who decided to hold its ineternational IT conference in Tallinn in 2012, she added.
The country has definitely become a magnet for international IT community, and with good reason. Estonia is well known as a top developer and user of the latest IT solutions. For example, Estonia is a recognised pioneer in the use of e-government, e-banking, digital signatures and a number of other handy applications. It was the first country in the world to offer Internet voting in national elections. It's also home to Nato's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and, as locals proudly point out, the popular Internet telephony system Skype was developed here.
All of this means that Estonian scientists are considered valued specialists and opinion leaders, and can share their experience with visiting delegates.
On the practical side, the proliferation of free Wi-Fi in Estonia's cities has made it a favourite of conference-goers in all fields.
While some in the meetings industry media are just coming around to the benefits of free Wi-Fi, Estonia has already been saturated with it for a number of years. In 2008, a Discovery Channel article named the capital, Tallinn, one of the top cities in the world for free wireless internet. All hotels and conference centres, as well as most downtown cafés, restaurants, offer public Wi-Fi, in nearly all cases, it's free. It's also available at the airport, shopping malls, and even in filling stations and public parks.
The result is that delegates can take their laptops and mobile devices with them and never worry about how to get connected.