The principles and operating models by which data and information content is produced for the interoperability platform are known as the interoperability method. Central to this are the uniformity and re-use of data specifications describing data content: as much use as possible is made of the previously created terminologies and concepts, code lists and data models.

Open source online platform for creating machine-readable data specifications

Instead of a situation where each organisation itself decides, for example, the content of a human concept and what information relates to it, it is described for the interoperability platform just once. After that, others can refer to the description and apply it.  Technically speaking, the descriptions of terminologies, code lists and data models created or imported into the interoperability platform are linked data, i.e. specific online resources with their own permanent identifier (URI) that can be referred to from elsewhere.

The interoperability method guides the creation of such common code concepts, core classes and codes and how the descriptions produced by an organisation can be generalised for everyone to use.  On the other hand, it guides how, and provides a frame of reference for, the use of common descriptions when organisations produce their own descriptions.  At national level common core concepts, data modeling classes and code lists, such as the person, organisation, document and descriptions of other such key information, are specified for all (mainly public administration) actors. Liaison groups at national level oversee and coordinate the production of these descriptions.  They decide which descriptions of terminologies, concepts, code lists and data models should be recommended at national level. Glossary work is coordinated by the Core Glossary Group and data modeling by the Concept Model Group. In 2019 the purpose is to start a Core Code List Group also.

The specifications are produced by teams of experts in domains

Because the national liaison groups do not have the resources or necessarily the expertise either to contribute to the creation of specifications for each domain, the intention is to establish domain interest groups for different domains or subject areas (for example, education or transport).   This arrangement will serve as the basis for teams of experts in domains that support actors in their own domains and ensure that the experts and stakeholders in the subject concerned are heard in conjunction with specification work and that different points of view and needs are taken into account. The national liaison groups themselves guide and coordinate the production and harmonization of specifications of domains and ensure that there is no overlap in the work among the different groups involved.  

The interoperability platform can be used to disseminate data content for others to use

Organisations have usually described their own terminologies, code lists and data models in context of enterprise architecture development, to be used in development of information systems and their interfaces. In future, they will be able to use the interoperability platform for preparing their own data and information content, as a publishing platform for that content, and to collect feedback. They will also be able to search for descriptions already on the platform and use them either as they are or edit them to suit their own needs.

And when organisations publish their data content on the interoperability platform, the useful descriptions they have produced may be generalised for use by others. In this generalisation process, too restrictive and organisation-specific features are then removed from the descriptions, so that these generalised descriptions can be used also in other organisations, domains and public administration.

The European Interoperability Framework is put into practice

The interoperability method and platform implement the European Interoperability Framework (EIF). According to that, four layers of interoperability are needed to be able to exchange data between information systems in such a way that its meaning remains unchanged. The layers are as follows: legal, organisational, semantic and technical.

At the core of the interoperability method are organisational and semantic interoperability.  The interoperability platform offers organisations in public administration an open source online platform where common agreements on the data content used in information systems may be specified and published.  The descriptions produced on the platform are also machine-readable data specifications, which can be used to accomplish technical interoperability, i.e. the design and implementation of different information systems.

Digital and Population Data Services Agency