Interoperability and Constituents of Interoperable Systems in Public Sector

Interoperability and Constituents of Interoperable Systems in Public Sector

Dibakar Ray (National Informatics Centre, India), Umesh Gulla (GGS Indraprastha University, India), M. P. Gupta (Indian Institute of Technology, India) and Shefali S. Dash (National Informatics Centre, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-390-6.ch010
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This chapter, based on analysis of literature, introduces a definition and a layered architecture for government information systems. It argues that the interoperability of information systems is essential in providing integrated government services, but unfortunately there is no consensus on what interoperability is and what constitutes interoperable information systems. By analysing available academic literature and government reports on interoperability, the authors have attempted to address this problem. Based on the study, a comprehensive definition of interoperability is presented here. Further, the authors have identified four constituents of interoperable system and finally, a layered architecture for interoperability of government information systems has been presented. The authors believe that an unambiguous definition and clear idea about constituent of interoperability would remove much confusion in conceptualisation, design, and development of interoperable systems in government.
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Dawes (2002) defines e-government as “E-government is the use of information technology to support government operations, engage citizens, and provide government servics”. Based on academic research and practical experience, Dawes (2002) further says that transformation from traditional program based service to integrated service would be one of the main requirements in future. According to her, future vision of e-government is that of integrated information and services.

Transformation from the very basic stage of e-government to the integrated service provisioning is not simple, but it evolves through stages, with progressively added degree of technological and organizational sophistication at each stage (Gil-Garcia & Martinez-Moyano, 2007). Although the stages of evolution are neither strictly mutually exclusive or progressive, nor there is consensus on stages and their numbers. Gil-Garcia & Martinez-Moyano (2007) give an exhaustive list of stages of e-government evolution. They are—Initial presence, Extended presence, Interactive presence, Transactional presence, Vertical integration, Horizontal integration and Totally integrated presence.

Despite difference about nomenclature of the final stage, there is agreement on the purpose of the stage, i.e. delivery of integrated service and information (Irani, AlSebie & Elliman 2006). This stage refers to a situation, where government services are integrated both vertically across different levels of government and horizontally cutting across different services and functions of government. A transformation of government so far unseen takes place at this stage, where services are arranged according to the requirements of the citizen and not according to the functional structure of government. Governments at this stage undertake major institutional and administrative reforms to fully exploit the potential of information technologies(Gil-Garcia & Martinez-Moyano, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Legal & Policy Environment: Government operates with in strict constitutional framework. Total integration and interoperability between systems may be outright unconstitutional because of the constitutional provision of separation of power among different branches of government. Thus legal, political, regulatory, economical factors constitute the environment within which e-government operates and these factors influence interoperability efforts and its outcome. For example governments come out with legal and policy frameworks to protect citizens’ privacy and these frameworks in turn limit types of information that can be shared between agencies.

Interoperability: The ability of people, organizations and business process and disparate information and communications systems to interact, interconnect and work together to deliver services and information in a seamless, uniform and efficient manner across multiple organizations and systems.

Data Interoperability: Data interoperability is concerned about processing and interpretation of received data. Data interoperability deals with issues such as identifiers, formats and the meaning of data.

Technical Interoperability: Technical interoperability deals with purely technical aspects of interoperability such as transmission protocols and data exchange formats

Organizational Interoperability: Organizational interoperability is concerned with how different organizations collaborate to achieve their mutually agreed e-government goals. Concerned organizations need detailed agreement on collaboration and synchronization of their business processes to deliver integrated government services.

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