Successful and mature e-government can only be achieved through a process of building organisational infrastructures that enable innovative action strategies to thrive in the culture of interoperability.
Architecture, not technology, should be the main driver in the modernisation of government. Enterprise Architecture is about integrating business strategy planning and IT strategy. Basically, the message is that we must focus less on IT, per se, and more on the process of organising and managing IT across government agencies.
I want to follow up a bit on this idea of a culture of interoperability in eGovernment. Interoperability is, perhaps especially in Europe, a burning issue everywhere (at least everywhere I go …).
In the European Interoperability Framework, we say that there are three important aspects we need to tackle: organisational, semantic and technical interoperability.
Organisational interoperability is concerned with defining business goals, modelling business processes and bringing about the collaboration of administrations that wish to exchange information, but that may have a different internal organisation and structure for their operations. Moreover, organisational interoperability aims at addressing the requirements of the user community by making services available, findable, accessible and user-oriented.
Semantic interoperability is concerned with ensuring that the precise meaning of exchanged information is understandable by any other application not initially developed for this purpose. Semantic interoperability enables systems to combine received information with other information resources and to process it in a meaningful manner.
Technical interoperability covers the technical issues of linking up computer systems and services. This includes key aspects such as open interfaces, interconnection services, data integration and middleware, data presentation and exchange, accessibility and security services.
These aspects of the issue can be taken further, it occurs to me. In our white paper, we talk about five important principles interoperability, openness, security, flexibility and scalability – for an enterprise architecture. We have been trying to consolidate these principles for a while, and have good support for this, but keep meeting requests for more explanation and direction signals. So here is an idea. For each of these principles, we look at the same three important aspects that we need to tackle:
- organisational, semantic and technical interoperability
- organisational, semantic and technical openness
- organisational, semantic and technical security
- organisational, semantic and technical flexibility
- organisational, semantic and technical scalability
Does this work? I think so:
– organisational openness: transparency, democratic openness
– semantic openness: use of open data definitions, access to data issues
– technical openness: use of open standards for data access, access to source code, etc
My PhD-student Kristian is working on an interesting model about interoperability. So far, the model is two-dimensional, but it might soon become three-dimensional 😉