The interoperability platform in general

What is the interoperability method?

The interoperability method is a method to commonly produce, manage and maintain the data specifications and metadata needed for digital services and flows of data.  The interoperability method helps create and maintain the semantic interoperability of information, i.e. exchanging information between the actors so that the meaning of information remains the same.

The interoperability platform that supports the method allows the coherent specification of data content and effective, transparent cooperation between actors in information management.  The interoperability platform consists of terminologies, code lists and the data models required in flows of data and other areas of information management.

Each tool has its own process descriptions for use based on the interoperability method.

  • Reference Data
  • Terminologies
  • Data vocabularies
How does the interoperability model promote interoperability?

Interoperability is often divided into four levels: legal, organisational, semantic and technical (cf. the EIF).

The interoperability platform focuses mainly on semantic interoperability.  Where one area starts and another ends is not always easy to say. For example, code lists and classifications frequently are needed when implementing technical interoperability.

Semantic interoperability is normally defined as interoperability that enables the transfer and processing of data in way that keeps the meaning unchanged and the content comprehensible to all parties.  Information has a precise meaning that remains unchanged when data is exchanged. The meaning on information is understood by all parties.

Is all data content on the interoperability platform publicly visible online?

In principle, all data content is in the public domain, but if content producers wish to restrict how their material is viewed, they can choose the status ‘Under Construction’. Data content marked in this way will only be viewed by those to whom the content producer has granted access rights.

What is the Core Glossary Group?

The Core Glossary Group is a public administration liaison group set up by JUHTA (Advisory Committee on Information Management in Public Administration) and responsible for coordinating the specification of terminologies produced in public administration and for the harmonisation of terminologies and concept descriptions at national level.  The group consists of professional terminologists and various specialists from public administration organisations. Meetings of the Core Glossary Group are open to all and anyone interested in the subject being discussed can attend, including those who are not in public administration.

The work group’s website can be found at

What is the Concept Model Group?

The Concept Model Group is a ‘sister’ of the Core Glossary Group, responsible for coordinating the specification of the data vocabularies and core components produced in public administration, the application profiles produced in domains and the harmonisation of data models at national level.

The work group’s website can be found at

What is the Core Code List Group?

The Core Code List Group is the ‘sister’ of the Core Glossary Group and the Concept Model Group, responsible for coordinating the specification of the code lists produced in public administration and for their harmonisation at national level.  The Core Code List Group is to start its work in 2019.

What access roles does the interoperability platform have?

There are five roles associated with the interoperability platform tools and rights management: administrator, terminology editor, code list editor, data modeler and member.

The administrator has rights of access to all the interoperability platform tools. Administrators also grant rights of access to personnel in their own organisation and in practice approve requests for rights of access from members in the organisation.

Terminology editors can create terminologies and edit their organisation’s own terminologies.

Code list editors can import new code lists into the Reference Data tool, edit them, and add descriptive information to their organisation’s own code lists.

Data modelers can create new application profiles and edit their organisation’s own data models.

Members can view the organisation’s material whose status is ‘Under Construction’. The role of members involves no edit rights.


What can I do with the Terminologies tool?

The Terminologies tool is used for work connected with a terminology glossary.  The tool enables you to maintain and publish terminological glossaries, and define concepts, terms and relationships between concepts. The Terminologies-tool supports the Nordic vocabulary specification and public administration terminology development process (see JHS 175, Development process of the terminology in public administration)

How does the Terminologies tool promote semantic interoperability?

The Terminologies tool enables you to maintain the terminologies used in public administration that contain concept definitions and other descriptive information.

The Data Vocabularies tool describes data content in a way that enables the meaning of information to be defined using the terminologies.  The meanings of code lists (including codes) can also be defined with reference to the concepts and terms in the Terminologies tool.

For whom is the Terminologies tool intended?

The Terminologies tool is intended for

  • people involved with terminology development in an organisation
  • data architects and data modelers
  • IT experts
  • communications experts and translators
  • citizens using public administration services who want to find out what concepts used by administration mean.

Reference Data

What can I do with the Reference Data tool?

The Reference Data tool can be used to publish and maintain code lists and their metadata.

The Reference Data tool enables you to produce hierarchical code lists, create code list extensions, mark code lists with variants and produce versions of code lists.

The Terminologies tool definitions can be used with the Reference Data tool.

For whom is the Reference Data tool intended?

The Reference Data tool is intended for everyone that maintains shared code lists or for everyone that uses code lists. The Reference Data tool makes it possible for everyone always to have the correct and same up-to-date version of the code list available to them.

Code lists administrators may publish and maintain their own code lists in the Reference Data tool.

The Reference Data user may use code lists published on the platform either by downloading them manually or via interfaces.

Are the code lists available via an open interface?

The publication of the open interface for code lists and the interoperability platform is on the Reference Data tool roadmap in 2019.

What is a variant?

A variant is a version of a certain code list produced for another purpose.

A variant differs from the parent code list as regards, for example, the number of codes and their hierarchical levels and has a purpose that is different from that of the parent code list.  A variant can be added to a code list by establishing a relationship between two code lists by selecting ‘Add variant to a code list’ from the ‘Select Action’ menu.

Examples of variants are Local Authorities of Greater Helsinki (variant for the parent code list Local Authorities 2018) and Five-year groups on unemployment benefit (variant for 1-year groups on unemployment benefit)

How is code list version control dealt with in practice?

When a user creates a new version of a code list by selecting ‘Create new version’ from the ‘Select Action’ menu, a new version of the code list is produced by copying the old version.  Alternatively, a new ‘blank’ version can be created from a code list and data content added to it later by importing data from Excel.

The new version has the default status ‘Draft’ and the status of the old version automatically changes to ‘Replaced’.

Data Vocabularies

For whom is the Data Vocabularies tool intended?

The Data Vocabularies tool is intended for

  • information officers in an organisation
  • data architects and data modelers
  • anyone searching for information in the data repositories of public administration
  • information system providers that need information on public administration data repositories or their data structures and content for the purpose of system development
What can I do with the Data Vocabularies tool?

As its name suggests, the Data Vocabularies tool enables the user to produce data models, i.e. descriptions of classes and their attributes and relationships between classifications (associations).  The Data Vocabularies tool creates content that is open linked data. The data model on the interoperability platform is therefore not just an image, but a collection of shared linked data content as defined by different parties. The Data Vocabularies tool is intended mainly for creating logical data models.

What is the difference between a data component library and an application profile?

The data component library is a collection of reusable data components, i.e. classes, attributes and associations.  Data components are linked to domain-specific terminologies and international standards. The creation and maintenance of data component libraries are the responsibility of domain-specific groups (e.g. the built environment), which are steered by the public administration Concept Model Group

An application profile can be used to describe domain-specific data content, such as the data content of information systems or interfaces. Application profiles are created by reusing data components in component libraries, or by making new ones so that the concept describing the content and its definition are proposed for the domain-specific terminology.  An application profile describes precisely the restrictions on data content for individual applications. It is also possible to impose restrictions on the allowed values for data content in data specifications by using the code lists in the Reference Data-tool.

Can the Data Vocabularies tool create data models other than logical ones?

Yes. The Data Vocabularies tool can also be used for creating other types of models, for example, conceptual models and star schema. However, the tool is intended for the creation of ‘logical’ data models.

The Data Vocabularies tool notation is based on Unified Modeling Language (UML), though it is smaller in scope. Associations between classes are always depicted as arrows indicating a certain direction, whereas with traditional UML the direction of an association may also be two-way or unspecified.

How can data models described using the Data Vocabularies tool be used to implement and describe interfaces?

The Data Vocabularies tool can be used to generate alternative schema formats (Json Schema, XML Schema, SHACL) with integrated human-readable documentation and links to permanent URIs.

To specify interfaces, a Json Schema description generated by the data model editor can be reused: e.g. Open API / Swagger in an interface specification, or a generated XML Schema description as part of the WSDL specification.

Digital and Population Data Services Agency