Toward interoperability in EU-wide e-government

From: Informatics And Telematics Institute (ITI)
Published: Fri May 20 2005

"Interoperability is currently the hot topic in e-government," notes Themis Tambouris, the project manager of the IST programme-funded project "With our system a public administration would be able to integrate its services with those of other providers operating in other fields and in other countries securely over the Internet."

With the potential to lead to an EU-wide secure intranet for public administrations, the architecture is defined as a Unitary European Network (UEN) bringing together the distributed and autonomous systems of different administrations into a common cooperative framework.

Though the project is focusing on a usage scenario of public administrations dealing with companies that want to establish subsidiaries in other EU states, the potential benefits of the system are widespread for citizens and public administrations in general.

"In essence the system enables one-stop, cross-border e-government services. Say you want to set up a business in another country, this would typically involve having to contact multiple public administrations in that country and your country to obtain the information and documents you need. With all of these services would be available over the Internet through an easy-to-use interface," Tambouris explains. "The system is designed to be easy to update for public administrations to provide services efficiently and easy for citizens to obtain them."

By using open standards such as XML, the architecture overcomes interoperability problems between the proprietary and legacy systems of different public administrations.

"There are three dimensions to overcoming interoperability problems: firstly at the organisational level, where public administrations need to learn to cooperate and end their insularity; secondly at the technical level by allowing different proprietary systems to work together; and thirdly at the semantic level by making different systems understand each other," Tambouris says.

By the time the project ends in October, the project partners aim to have "achieved an architecture that solves many of the existing difficulties of interoperability." Trials in Italy and Greece over the coming months are expected to prove the functionality of the system ahead of plans to commercialise.

The potential for it to be adopted by public administrations across Europe is high, given the increasing interest of EU Member States in applying e-government solutions.

"Citizens are driving the rollout of e-government because they want to see the public sector provide services as efficiently as the private sector," the project manager notes.

Contact: Tara Morris, +32-2-2861985,
Company: Informatics And Telematics Institute (ITI)
Contact Name: Themis Tambouris
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: +30-2310-891544

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