A System for Governmental Virtual Institutions based on Ontologies and Interaction Protocols

A System for Governmental Virtual Institutions based on Ontologies and Interaction Protocols

Cláudia J. Abrão de Araújo (Laboratory of Interactivity and Digital Entertainment Technology, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil) and Flávio S. Corrêa da Silva (Laboratory of Interactivity and Digital Entertainment Technology, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/jdet.2012100107

Abstract

The authors believe that the adoption of virtual worlds is suitable for electronic government applications as it can increase the capillarity of public services, facilitate the access to government services and provide citizens with a natural and immersive experience. They present a Government Virtual Institution Model (GVI) for the provision of public services that satisfies relevant issues such as: adaptability to different citizen education level and to heterogeneous government systems; alignment with government services requirements related to security, privacy, reliability and scalability; and government interoperability requirements. The model of the GVI, the government services and the information flow across the GVI are formally described using the JamSession platform (Correa da Silva, 2011). The model of the GVI uses an architecture based on governmental patterns (including ontologies for information representation) to deal with the connections to the governmental systems, and 3D virtual world simulation systems to interact with citizens.
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Introduction

In the present work, we propose the adoption of virtual worlds as a natural and immersive interface for the electronic government, simulating situations for users that they would live through if they were physically present at an office and attended by a human clerk. Figure 1 illustrates such a situation, considering the example of issuing a document.

Figure 1.

Simulation of a real situation

We believe that independently of the level of citizen education, virtual worlds provide a friendly interface for interaction and facilitates the learning process to use a public service system. This paper presents a Governmental Virtual Institution Model (GVI) for the provision of public services that satisfies relevant requirements such as:

  • Adaptability to different citizen educational levels;

  • Adaptability to heterogeneous government systems;

  • Alignment with government services requirements related to security, privacy, reliability and scalability;

  • Government interoperability requirements.

In order to satisfy these requirements, we propose to adopt the JamSession platform, which is an interoperability platform that ensures reliability, robustness and security, also managing the required computational resources effectively. The heterogeneity which is inherent to service systems in public administration can be accounted for using this platform, in the back-end – by connecting heterogeneous organizations through interoperability mediators – as well as in the front-end – by supporting different kinds of system interfaces which may be required.

To provide the correct execution of the system, the government services and the information flow are formally described using the JamSession platform, which is a conceptual tool to specify, design and implement intelligent interactive environments. JamSession is an expressive coordinator of heterogeneous resources, which can be used in a variety of scenarios, including the choreography of workflows and the coordination of multimedia resources. We also use ontologies in our formal model for information representation, as a conceptual tool to structure and organize information.

We believe that the GVI model can contribute to increase the capillarity of public services, providing users with an immersive experience in a rather familiar environment, avoiding them to physically travel to a governmental office, also reducing the need to maintain too many governmental offices and branches. In the present article we describe the GVI model.

In the next section, we present an overview of interoperability and interaction protocols. Then, we present an overview of ontologies and their main uses. In the following section, we introduce the JamSession platform. Finally, we employ all these concepts to present the GVI model in greater detail, followed by some conclusions about this work.

Interoperability And Interaction Protocols

In this section, we present the concept of interoperability, as defined in the literature. Then, we present the notion of interaction protocols and some initiatives related to the JamSession platform.

Interoperability means the ability of information and communication technology (ICT) systems, as well as of the business processes they support, to exchange data and share information and knowledge (European Communities, 2004).

According to Pardo and Burke (2009), interoperability is an important feature that can be employed to improve the quality of government services. However, as pointed out by Pardo and Burke:

“Interoperability, like technology, is not an end but a means to an end. Citizens do not demand interoperability; rather, systems must be interoperable in most cases for governments to deliver what citizens do demand.” (Burke & Brian, 2009)

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