The information and communication technology must contribute to improved focus of state information systems on citizens and services provided.
Earlier institution and official focused management and information systems are more and more aimed at users and services to link the information systems into a common logical unit, providing the services to both the population and organisations.
State information system services will be recorded in a catalogue; back-end systems will be used by service providers while final customers are using front end systems, which are websites and portals of various institutions, the information gateway eesti.ee and other personal portals of users. In the case of personalised services, evidential value, authentication of users and authorisation must be ensured, as a general rule.
Services will be provided to citizens and enterprises by state and local government organisations, private companies and third sector organisations, using the X-Road data exchange layer.
Citizen-focused state and service-based information system assume that the information systems are linked into a logical uniform unit, which support citizens and organisations.
For that purpose, different organisations and information systems must be inoperable or, in other words, have the ability to function together. Public sector institutions are free to develop their information systems, but they must comply with the interoperability framework requirements.
European Interoperability Strategy »
European Interoperability Framework »
The state information system, which has been built as a distributed interoperable system, has given Estonia good opportunities to benefit from the trend where more and more equipment and machines are connected to computer networks.
Interoperability has three aspects:
- Organisational interoperability represents the ability of organisations to provide services to each other and their customers using information systems. Organisational interoperability will be ensured with legislation and general agreements.
- Technical interoperability stands for infrastructural and software interoperability, which requires the adoption of common protocols for the purposes of data exchange, development of software to manage data connections and creation of user interfaces for the communication between different organisations.
- Semantic interoperability means the ability of different organisations to attach similar meaning to the information exchanged.
Objectives of interoperability
Information systems will help to perform various operations at the same time in the same place in the near future.
The objective of the interoperability framework is to improve the functioning of the public sector in Estonia, improving the services available to the citizens and enterprises of Estonia as well as the European Union.
It is important to ensure the transnational availability of e-services to both entrepreneurs and citizens. The cross-border inoperability of basic infrastructure of the services is the prerequisite for that purpose.
Interoperability pursues the following aims:
- Contribution to the development of a service-based society where all people can communicate with their government systems without knowing anything about the public sector structure and related distribution of roles.
- Contribution to the transparency of the process for the adoption of information policy decisions within the state information system.
- Supporting the inter-development of state information systems.
- Provision of terms and conditions for free competition, by observing the agreed framework.
- Reducing the public sector IT costs.
State IT architecture
State IT architecture is involved in ensuring the inoperability of state information systems; the principles of service-based architecture will be observed for that purpose:
- Sufficient technical interoperability or integration of information systems could be treated as the first priority of e-governance.
- Security is an important prerequisite for e-governance services.
- Availability of open standards will determine the feasibility and success of IT investments both in a short-term and long-term perspective.
- Flexibility is important for both innovation and the ability to adjust the IT solutions to changes. This is also one of the prerequisites for the success and sustainability of the information system development project.
- Scaling means that maintaining the functionality and effectiveness of IT solutions becomes important in situations where, for example, the number of users, scope of transactions or data volumes could change. The system must allow extension or retraction in such a way that optimum satisfaction of all the requirements will be ensured.
Scaling ability becomes very important in the case of information systems that are supposed to exchange information with large systems, characterised by intense data traffic or the possibility that it will increase over time.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making web content more accessible and gives suggestions to web developers as well as editors for achieving them.
Following these guidelines will make content accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity and combinations of these.
The wider goal of WCAG 2.0 is to increase the quality and usability of websites in general. Following these guidelines helps in making web content clearer, more structured and user-friendly.
- WCAG 2.0 »
Guidelines for improving the accesibility of websites
Public sector institutions generate, gather and store large volumes of open data, such as statistical information, spatial, economic and environmental information, archive materials, books and art collections.
Today, public information is largely digital and used as a basis for the creation of new knowledge and services. Public information is required by both individuals and entrepreneurs to adopt decisions as smart as possible and provide evidence on certain management aspects.
To allow effective use of data, they must be submitted in a machine readable format; explicit rules should be established for data recycling, ensuring the interoperability of information systems and services and infrastructure that supports data recycling.
The availability of open data will contribute to:
- Transparency of governance – involvement of citizens, enabling them and opening research and cultural assets for their access is an obligation of countries.
- Innovation – open data is closely related to open government initiatives and new technology trends, such as open formats, free software, linked information, “big data”, future Internet and co-creation.
- Boosting the economy – opening public sector information will allow the private and third sector organisations to combine these with various data and create new business services with added value. It is not easy to appraise the possible monetary influence of data recycling on society, as the influences are largely indirect.
Estonian Open Data Green Paper
The Estonian Open Data Green Paper is beening completed at the initiative of the State Information Systems Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. The document will be submitted to the Government for discussion in the second quarter of 2014. It is aimed at finding solutions to the following problems:
- Increasing the transparency of public sector, transition from “public by default” principle to “open data by default” principle.
- Using new knowledge, innovations and services, created on the basis of open data, to enliven the economy.
- Speeding up the transition to future technologies (Linked Data technologies, Internet of objects, “big data” and co-creation).
- Development of Estonian open data infrastructure.
- Fulfilment of the obligations that Estonia has taken up within the framework of the European Union and other international initiatives.
Semantic interoperability of information systems
Service based features of information systems are the prerequisites for achieving their semantic interoperability.
Thanks to the service based nature of information systems, the state can contribute to semantic interoperability of the information system, which means that information systems can make adequate use of the data obtained from other information systems. Interoperability aspects are complicated by the fact that the methods of use, objectives and contexts of software systems are different and, therefore, the presentation, coding and meaning of data will also vary.
As the establishment and management of information system semantics is expensive, the components that are most widely used will be the man focus; at the moment, this will mean information systems that have links to X-Road.
Over the coming years, the main tasks of semantic technologies include reducing the time required for the integration of state information systems and creation of alternatives for fast and appropriate communication of information, which will also enhance the abilities needed to handle crisis situations.
Information society needs a basic framework and information infrastructure that is built around information and data communication standards.
Standardisation in the sphere of information technology is organised by the State Information Systems Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, which will explain the information society arrangements and the principles of an open country and take part in the development of public sector analytical standardisation reports and recommendations. The State Information Systems Department commissions the required services from Technical Standardisation Committee EVS TK4.
Full list of Estonian standards can be found in the catalogue, maintained by the Estonian Centre for Standardisation; the number of information technology sphere is no. 35, as provided by the International Classification of Standards (ICS).
The European Union information system is developed by e-SENS
The State Information Systems Department of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications takes part in the development of trans-European information systems.
The e-SENS (Electronic Simple European Networked Services) project, which was launched last year, contributes to the development of European digital market. The project merges, creates and enables technical ICT solutions that facilitate interoperability of information systems of various European countries, digital infrastructure and promotes the quality of public sector services.
The e-SENS consortium consists of 18 European countries and involves one hundred partners. The European Commission has also launched the lead projects, e-Justice, Business Start-up, eHealth and eProcurement.
e-SENS offers support to the development of an effective European common market by creating public service opportunities for citizens and enterprises:
- Simple access to public European online-services.
- Development of interoperability of different national systems with the help of ICT.
- Development of general and recyclable solutions for electronic public sector services.
- e-SENS »
All digital signature creation devices issued in Estonia must comply with both the Digital Signature Act and the European Parliament and Council's requirements.