Background and goals

Interoperability of information

All government services, actions and decision-making are essentially based on information and knowledge. Public administrations must maintain and use information in a cost-effective, secure manner and publish it as openly as possible for different actors to use. However, information can only be managed if we know exactly what we are managing.

In the digital age, information must move efficiently between services and in data streams. When information is defined in a systematic, harmonized way, we have better visibility to and understanding of information in different databases and systems.

To a large extent, we need much the same information content for different services and information systems, even when the technical aspects of data management and interfaces vary from case to case.

Information and the meaning(s) attached to it do not move as abstract constructions between information systems, but in the shape of words and semantic structures that the receiver interprets and turns into meaning. In order to keep the meaning of information unchanged in this process, information needs metadata, in other words "information about information”. Consequently, we also need to manage our metadata.

The semantic interoperability of information is realized when the meaning of information that moves between different actors is maintained and understood, in consensus, between all the actors involved. Technical interoperability means the coordination of data transfer techniques.

Interoperability Method and Platform

The Finnish interoperability project, a national application and implementation of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), was a two year project that concluded at the end of year 2018. The project developed and released both the Interoperability Method and the technical Interoperability Platform. 

  • The Interoperability Method is a framework for producing and managing the information and metadata that are critical for our digital services and data streams.
  • A technical Interoperability Platform, with three user tools built on it, supports the method and turns principles into action. The Platform was launched in spring 2018 and is being developed further while in production.

The focal point and theme of both the Method and the Platform is simple: to provide a common set of tools, guidelines and principles for the Finnish public sector, with semantic/information interoperability across all levels of government being the ultimate practical goal.

  • Seamlessly interacting, semantically coherent information systems and flows and knowledge structures
  • A public sector whose entire information layer is semantically interoperable

The Interoperability Platform and the tools provide an unique ID, URI, for each resource. In that manner the resources can be referenced anywhere by using that URI.  

The tools of the Interoperability Platform

The three plus one tools provided by the Interoperability Platform are the following:

  1. The Terminologies tool, a browser-based application for creating and managing information domain specific terminologies and concepts.
  2. The Data Vocabularies tool, a browser-based application for managing and publishing data vocabularies.
  3. The Reference Data tool, a technical platform for publishing and sharing common public sector code lists and reference data.
  4. The Comments tool, supporting the other three tools, a browser-based application for acquiring and collecting comments for specified terminologies, code lists and data vocabularies.

The tools are described in more detail in the following chapters.

Only authorized users from organisations registered to use the tool can create and edit information. This is controlled by the access control functionality of the platform. In addition to admin users, each tool has an editor role, where the user is allowed to produce and edit content in that specific tool.

The Interoperability Platform supports multilingual development. Currently, the user can choose between a Finnish or an English interface. The actual data can be presented in various languages, as the user is able to select and tag any language code for their data and enter the data in that language.

More information:

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