Sweden Aims for Tech Expansion

February 18, 2011
By Beverly Schaeffer

In this European nation of approximately 9.3 million people, Sweden's government and technology sectors are reaching beyond its borders to ramp up interoperability. Growth is an inevitable outcome, and Sweden is putting the pieces into play to achieve this goal. In his article, "Technology Sector Poised for Growth," in this issue of SIGNAL Magazine, George I. Seffers focuses on the elements driving Sweden's technology market-interoperability, outsourcing and exports. Financial analysis firm Business Monitor International's (BMI's) predictions call for Sweden's IT market to increase by 4 percent annually, with domestic growth to reach $18 million in 2014. BMI puts the nation's computer hardware market at about $3 billion by 2014; software sales at more than $5 billion; and IT services at about $8.5 billion. With a fairly small domestic market though, Sweden depends on exports. International and domestic interoperability is necessary, and Sweden's RAKEL system-(English translation: radio communication for effective management) comprises a handheld digital radio for military and emergency responders. It's also used by public policy, security and health organizations. European countries such as Finland, Germany and Belgium have already installed the international standard technology. This interoperable communications system in the hands of first responders and the military is paying dividends, says Helena Lindberg, director general of Myndigheten för Sam-hällsskydd och Beredskap, or  "Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency." The architecture's in place, she says, but convincing municipalities and agencies to adopt it is the next step:

Now we have a huge challenge of getting all the sectors in Sweden to join in and to start using RAKEL. We've come quite far, but when it comes to local and regional levels and the health sector, the government hasn't really a mandate to order the municipalities and the boards of health within the regions to use RAKEL ...

Sweden also wants to purchase NATO-interoperable systems, according to Gunnar Hult, Sweden's deputy national armaments director:

We have developed good relationships within NATO, and we're looking at buying some of the systems they have developed, systems used in Afghanistan, for example. This is much more interesting for us now than developing our own uniquely Swedish systems, which are not compatible or interoperable.

Swedish technology in some cases is driving NATO interoperability. NATO has adopted the software-oriented architecture developed under that nation's network-centric warfare program Ledningssystem Teknik (LedsysT), which means "command and control systems (C2) technology." LedsysT began about 10 years ago to enable legacy C2 systems to share data with newer systems. Because it has a reputation as a technology innovator, Sweden attracts worldwide companies including Microsoft Corporation, HP and others. Swedish companies such as Saab and Ericsson continue to expand business worldwide. Sweden and other governments continue seeking to outsource some tasks, which provides industry with opportunities. As a small country with a fairly small budget, Sweden needs effective export strategies. In defense and security, its industry offers technologies such as communications, radar, aircraft countermeasures, C2 and space technology. Industry sources agree that exports are vital for business, and in August 2010, the Swedish government opened the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency to promote defense exports. Ericsson, for example, the inventor of Bluetooth technology, has reported strong growth in sales in North America and Japan, with the mobile data market's continued growth in North America. Mobile broadband is in high demand in Japan, and Ericsson does business in 175 countries. Furthermore, 40 percent of all mobile calls are made through Ericsson networks, and the company boasts 25,000 patents. Sweden has established a strong foothold in industry--growing and capitalizing on its successful efforts. Share you thoughts and ideas on that nation's technological contributions, as well as its plans for the future. Read the complete article and express your opinions here.

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