NASA uses Estonian-founded GrabCAD

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US government agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research, is using the Estonian-founded, US-based, online engineering platform GrabCAD to design a handrail clamp assembly (HCA) for the International Space Station (ISS) that can be printed on the ISS 3D printer.

Called NASA Handrail Clamp Assembly Challenge, the aim is to find the best design for a rigid clamp that is used by astronauts on the ISS. The handrail clamp is used by astronauts in a microgravity environment to mount various things.

The HCA design will be printed by the 3D printer on-board ISS and will be named CHAMP (Clamp for Handrail with Additively Manufactured Parts).

NASA is using the GrabCAD community of designers and engineers to find a new design.

Founded in 2010, GrabCAD helps engineers get products to market faster by connecting people, content and technology. The firm offers GrabCAD Workbench, a cloud-based collaboration tool that enables engineers and designers to share, view and manage CAD files and other design data. GrabCAD is also home to a community of more than 1.6 million members from around the world, who can access a large public CAD file library, as well as connect with other engineers.

GrabCAD was recently acquired by the US-Israeli provider of 3D printing solutions, Stratasys Ltd, for around 100 million dollars.

The NASA challenge will be open for submission until February 16 and winners will be announced on month later

Source: ERR News via Estonian Review

First bitcoin ATM in Baltics opens in Tallinn

The first bitcoin ATM in the Baltics is now available to cryptocurrency users in the Estonian capital.

The ATM allows users to exchange euros into bitcoins, a virtual peer-to-peer currency, and transfer the sum into user’s digital wallet. The euro to bitcoin exchange rate is dependent on the current market price.

According to the company responsible for the ATM, there are currently about 13 bitcoin ATMs in Finland, and around 300 in the world.

The bitcoin ATM is open on weekdays from 10:00 to 19:00 and is located at the Spotex currency exchange in Tartu street, Tallinn.

Source: ERR via Estonian Review

Taxify expands to South Africa

The Estonian start-up Taxify, developer of a smartphone-based application for taxi booking, is set to expand to the South African cities Johannesburg and Cape Town at the end of this month.

Cooperation with licensed taxi operators only gives the company an edge over competitors, CEO of Taxify South Africa Trevor Joseph said in a press release. “Our passengers are always assured that they are in the hands of properly-licensed drivers, with the necessary taxi permit and public carrier insurance,” he said.

In just over two months of preparatory work on the South African market, Taxify has over 150 vehicles registered on the system. The company hopes to exceed 500 vehicles by the end of March.

Founded in Estonia in 2013, Taxify is engaged in developing a smartphone app and dispatcher software for taxi booking. The company currently operates in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Britain, Georgia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United States.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Developer of taxi booking app Taxify raises 1.4 mEUR

Taxify, developer of a taxi booking app of the same name, has raised 1.4 million euros to support expansion into new markets.

The founder of Taxify, Markus Villig, said the company will use the investment to reinforce its leader’s position in Eastern Europe and secure rapid growth in expanding into markets of Central Europe. In addition to Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania Taxify is planning to launch its service in four more countries of Europe in the coming months.

The parties behind the 1.4-million-euro investment are Adcash, Rubylight, and Odnoklassniki, TMT Investments, as well as angel investors Rain Rannu from Fortumo and Indrek Kasela.

Taxify is a taxi booking app with dispatcher and backend software solutions for taxi fleet management developed by the technology company Taxify established in Estonia in 2013. Taxify employs more than 30 people in eight countries.

Source: Baltic News Service through Estonian Review


e-services in state agencies increase work efficiency

More and more state agencies use self-service based e-services to administer data, thus saving working time and increasing work efficiency.  Since November, the employees of 89 institutions manage their holidays, assets, and business trips via State Employee Self-Service Portal. The first to use all three services are the Ministry of Culture and Republic of Estonia Information System Authority.
“Using e-services has become an integral part of our everyday life and it is natural to introduce them in state support services,” said Agris Peedu, Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance. “The savings effect comes from the capacity – the more employees use self-service, the greater the savings for the entire state. The employees are free to use the time saved on routine tasks to perform their main activities.”
Since this autumn, State Shared Service Centre (SSSC) provides integrated service for managing business trips, holidays, and assets. Earlier, the agencies used various document management systems and data processing programs, which caused uneven service quality and increased workload. Currently offered service is based on a common standard and automated process.
“Introduction of the e-services of the self-service portal has generally improved the efficiency of data processing at the Ministry of Culture, because it combines automated operations in a single system. It helps to manage business trip compensations, or holiday pay, or something else. Only a few people miss the nostalgic cash deck and cashier who used to hand over cash against signature. Major efficiency of digital process consists in savings on time and quality,” said Paavo Nõgene, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture. “Eventually, it facilitates the work of many people, and also helps to preserve nature.”
Transition to digital services supports national goal to implement nationwide centralised e-services. Establishment of the State Employee Self-Service Portal and provision of relevant services is one part of the project for linking state support services, resulting in introduction of a single financial software in state agencies, supranational e-invoices, and modernisation of the systems intended for submitting e-documents.
SSSC offers support service to state agencies and aims to save money and time, and improve quality through service centralisation by harmonising technological capacity and work processes.
Source: Estonian Ministry of Finance

Consumer Protection Board takes Elisa to court

The Consumer Protection Board has taken mobile phone operator Elisa to court over e-bill fees.

The aim is to get the money charged for bills sent by email back for customers, the Board told ETV on Thursday.

The Board said customers should have the possibility of receiving e-bills without an additional charge.

Elisa said customers can log into their online accounts and see their bills for free.

At the beginning of the year the company instituted a 60-cent surcharge for bills sent via e-mail.

Source: ERR News

The digital gap between generations is decreasing

According to Statistics Estonia, in the 1st quarter of 2014, 83% of households in Estonia had access to the Internet at home. The gap between the younger and older population in computer and Internet use is decreasing.

Compared to the same period of the previous year, the percentage of households with an Internet connection has increased by 4 percentage points.  Almost all households with children (98%) and three-quarters of households without children (78%) had the possibility to use the Internet at home. While Internet access at home is the least common in single-person households (71%), the share of those having Internet access at home has grown the most (two-fold) in specifically this group in the previous five years.

Although a fixed broadband connection (wired or wireless) is still the most prevalent among homes with Internet access, the share of fixed broadband connections at homes has decreased in the last two years, giving way to the use of mobile internet connections. In the 1st quarter of 2014, 61% of households with Internet access at home used a mobile internet connection (in 2010, the share was only 6%).

Among persons aged 16–74, 84% have used a computer and the Internet. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the share of Internet users has increased by five percentage points. Although the older population uses computers and the Internet less than the young, the gap between younger and older Internet users has still been decreasing from year to year. 70% of 55–64-year-olds and 44% of 65–74-year-olds had used the Internet, and the share of Internet users has increased the most in those age groups, compared to the previous year (by 7 and 13 percentage points, respectively).

In addition to the growth in the number of Internet users, the frequency of Internet use has also increased. In the 1st quarter of 2014, 86% of Internet users used it daily (80% in 2013). Nine out of ten 16–74-year-olds had recently (in the last 3 months) used Internet banking, sent e-mails, sought information and read the news on the Internet. 60% had participated in social networks, 50% had made telephone calls via the Internet, and one-third had watched television or listened to radio programmes online.

49% of 16–74-year-olds used the Internet for purchasing goods or services. The products and services purchased online the most were: clothes or sports goods, travel and accommodation services, and tickets for concerts, cinema, theatre and other events.

Slightly more than three-quarters of enterprises with 10 and more employees have a website, which is mainly used for presenting products and services. A quarter of enterprises having  a webpage provides information on job openings on their site or offers the possibility to submit job applications online. Online ordering or booking is available in 14% of enterprises having a webpage.

Year by year, the number of enterprises using the ID card has been growing steadily. Estonian enterprises use the ID card mainly for digital signatures but also for user verification in different information systems. Nearly a fifth of enterprises are very satisfied and a quarter of enterprises are satisfied with the e-services supplied by the government.

Statistics Estonia studies the use of information technology in households and among persons aged 16–74 as an independent survey since 2014 (from 2005 to 2013 it was part of the Labour Force Survey). The survey is carried out in the 2nd quarter; the reference period is the 1st quarter. A household is a group of persons who live at the same address and share joint financial resources and whose members consider themselves to be members of one household, while a family is based on family relationships or kinship.

Statistics Estonia has surveyed the use of information technology in enterprises since 2001. In 2014, approximately 3,000 enterprises participated in the survey. The survey involves enterprises with 10 or more persons employed.

The use of information technology in households, by individuals aged 16–74 and in enterprises is studied by statistical organisations in all the Member States of the European Union on the basis of a harmonised methodology.

Source: Statistics Estonia

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