From EIF 1.0 to EIF 2.0

The European Commission's draft EIF 2.0, which was available on the IDABC website for public comment until 22 September 2008 is a significant step forward in terms of open standards based interoperability in Europe. Actually, I think it that if EU27 adopt this, and practice what the policy preaches, we would see greater efficiency and effectivenesss of the European public sector. Indirectly, this would set the example for industry solutions as well.

Open standards are a base for dynamic, innovative and responsive ICT systems which can evolve in response to citizens' needs. Standards have numerous benefits, including enabling innovation, preparing the ground for better products, spreading new technology, expanding market access, boosting transparency, avoiding lock-in, creating market stability, and ensuring efficiency and economic growth. There is momentum of open standards in all sectors of society as illustrated by government policies, procurement and business practices and impacts on efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery and business operations, the draft EIF 2.0 is a strong example of this approach.

Open standards achieve increasing momentum because standard setting actors – companies, governments, and consumers – are shifting from a dogmatic to a pragmatic perspective – from adherence to strict principles, to commitment to a path towards openness.

Back in 2004, EIF 1.0 boldly defined Open Standards and interoperability in the domain of eGovernment. The draft EIF 2.0 re-confirms the importance of open standards, which is the most significant issue at stake here.

The draft EIF 2.0 is particularly valuable since it:

- Enhances uniformity among National Interoperability Frameworks across EMEA and beyond.
- Recognizes the 'openness continuum', lays a path towards open standards based public sector IT architecture.
- Maintains a clear definition of Open Standards and specifications.

Nonetheless, I am concerned that:

- The Generic Public Services Conceptual model (sic) is difficult to understand and is inconsistent with architectural vocabulary used in industry.
- The governance model and tools to ensure compliance are relatively weak.
- The importance of Supplier's Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) regarding usability is not reflected.
- The value of interoperability to the EU Single Market is not fully recognized
- Specialist terms and overwhelming detail might deter non-specialist audiences and stakeholders such as politicians, non-IT industry leaders, and users – who are important for shifting the strategic perspective.
- Many EC actors (INFSO, DIGIT, ENTR) and websites (Broadband-europe.eu, i2010, ePractice.eu, Semic.eu and CAMSS) target similar issues without the necessary integration and sharing of content and best practice.

Nevertheless, the draft version of EIF 2.0 is a great start. I am now looking forward to seeing the comments as well as the final version taking the comments into account. May it succeed!

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Trond Undheim, Ph.D, Director of Standards Strategy and Policy at the Oracle Corporation, speaker, entrepreneur, blogger, and author, is one of the world’s leading experts on technology and society. LinkedIn profile

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