E-SERVICES

A national data exchange layer provides an enabling environment for developing services

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Going online - the key to improved service solutions

The wide range of information systems currently in use makes it challenging to create new and improve existing electronic services. The information systems often contain duplicated information or do not ”speak” fluently with one another. At present, systems integration is often done bilaterally. If a separate connection has to be built with each service provider, the development of new services becomes expensive, or even impossible: each new connection has a price.

Practical integration solutions generate new types of e-services

Diverse provision and use of e-services requires the electronic identification of citizens and the exchange of information between databases in a unified manner. The existing databases of public organisations could be exploited for service production purposes, through the use of a common data exchange layer.

Several types of registration data, such as health records or motor vehicle registrations, would only need to be stored in one place – the layer would enable the use of original, up-to-date data from its original source when, and where, needed. Together with an eID this also enables citizens to check and update their own data and to use a variety of public and private services online. A data exchange layer operates on the basis of standardised interfaces between information systems.

Extensive co-operation needed to overcome common challenges

Building a national service-oriented architecture for the identification of citizens and the exchange of data requires extensive and open-minded co-operation between public administration organisations and companies. The Prime Minister’s Office established a monitoring group (press release in Finnish only) to expedite the implementation of proposals generated by various ICT development projects. The Prime Minister’s Office implemented a project (project plan in Finnish only) aimed at planning a national data exchange layer architecture. The projects of Sitra are finished. Through its projects, Sitra promoted extensive co-operation between the private sector and public administration. In addition, Sitra’s experts participated in the working groups of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance.

Data exchange layer tested also in practice

Sitra supported these efforts, for example, with an experiment in which the cities of Espoo and Lahti tested the data exchange layer in practice. The adoption of the data exchange layer was  also supported by local surveys charting its suitability for different cities’ needs, to ensure it is implemented seamlessly.

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