Standards and Interoperability

In the context of various information management systems running in governments, the expectations to have ‘single version of truth’ is not something new. For better planning, organizing, controlling and leading, having access to timely and correct (non-conflicting) data/information is very pertinent. However, in many cases, few information systems, if any, running in government organizations, share information among themselves, even though many have similar functionalities and overlapping data sets.

The good news though is: the ‘need’ to share is gradually being realized in the connected world and ‘interoperability’ is being mooted as the solution.

Interoperability allows disparate systems to ‘talk’ to each other. Needless to say, the complexities in getting them to ‘talk’ can be further reduced by having these systems developed based on certain agreed standards. After all, it is easier to connect similar things.

There is a clear link between ‘standards’ and ‘interoperability’ – with increasing standardization, the ease to interoperate increases. However caution is warranted here, [in the beginning – in order to achieve interoperability through commanding standards] as, standardization is not only difficult to achieve and enforce but also would stifle the freedom of design.

In contrast, ‘interoperability’ as a concept, allows that bit of disparateness in systems to exist but still provides room for systems to ‘talk’ to each other.

It appears interoperability can be achieved either by developing information systems based on certain standards or without standards. However, efforts needed to make systems exchange data would be different in both the cases.

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