Government Role and the Interoperability Ecosystem
Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 219, Summer 2009
59 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2009
Date Written: Summer 2009
Abstract: This article describes the five facets of the interoperability ecosystem and offers insight into a constructive role for government in facilitating each aspect individually, as well as in promoting the interoperability ecosystem as a whole. The five facets of an “interoperability ecosystem” are: (1) technical interoperability (which is generally product-focused, i.e., designing products to be interoperable off the shelf or with the use of translators or converters); (2) organizational interoperability (focusing on business processes and user-based adoption issues to facilitate efficiencies across organizations); (3) legal/public policy interoperability (i.e., laws and public policies affecting interoperability among government entities and organizations, such as accessibility, privacy, security, etc.); (4) semantic interoperability (i.e., assurance that all systems and users “speak the same language” and understand each other); and (5) the effect of differing political, economic, cultural and social forces upon interoperability. The article concludes, among other things, that as the IT industry evolves, there is an unprecedented level of technical interoperability in the IT industry today that has been achieved by the marketplace in a number of complementary ways, and consequently, government’s intervention should be extremely limited. In fact, governmental attempts to mandate technical standards and to prefer a certain technology or particular business or licensing model over others can actually undermine the benefits of achieving interoperability by limiting user options and impairing competition, innovation, and consequently economic development opportunities. In contrast, by focusing on understanding and enhancing organizational, legal/public policy, and semantic interoperability, and bridging the critical cultural, economic, and political differences that influence the development of an interoperability ecosystem, governments can improve the overall health of the interoperability ecosystem (including the ability of industry to further enhance technical interoperability) and, by extension, the welfare of their people and their local economies.
Keywords: information technology, interoperability, organizational change, information management, public administration, e-government, e-governance, interoperability, standards, information sharing, government orgnaization, semantic interoperability
JEL Classification: D23, D73, D78, O33, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation