One of the objectives of the e-Government initiative is to improve the services rendered to the public by using information and communication technologies. Those services will be accessed through the Internet connections. In order to facilitate information exchange and sharing to build services the Government is implementing an interoperability solution which is the main theme of this article.
Government information systems are developed in different programming languages and run on diverse operating systems. This has created a situation of incompatibility and inability of institutions to exchange data for comparisons, references and statistical purposes. This way has also led to many existing duplicate information at various institutions whose accuracy differs; for example an individual’s bank details may differ from the record available on the Population Registration System.
The implementation of the e-Government project involves development and adopting of standards and frameworks. The Interoperability Solution provides a standardized method of communication for data sharing and exchange by institutions. In order for the e-Government services to be effectively provided, the development and implementation of the interoperability solution is essential to be undertaken. In other words, such mechanism enables information systems that are developed in different programming languages to talk to one another. For practical understanding an example is provided below:
John would like to register a company. Before registering, a few questions need to be asked: is John a Namibian citizen, is his proposed company name already existing, does John have a tax number and so on. With the interoperability solution in place and with the Population and Company Registration database interfaced with the Company Registration System and the Integrated Tax Administration System, cross references can be made to these databases to verify John’s information. John will access information through the Government portal to achieve all processes involved.
Thus, this system will benefit customers because instead of visiting various institutions to acquire information or have their documents certified by the police, they will obtain services at what is known as a one-stop shop.
The interoperability solution takes into consideration matters concerning political, technical, legal, organisational and semantic specifics ensuring that all aspects are standardized for uniformity.
A pilot phase to create and test connectivity is being implemented at the Office of the Prime Minister, where six organisations are participating. Training of the Technical Team has been provided and is ongoing. According to the work plan the system will be fully developed by April 2016.
Namibian Interoperability Framework
As part of the interoperability solution, a Namibian Interoperability Framework will be developed and implemented. The Namibian Interoperability Framework is a policy document that provides guidelines on agreed approaches to interoperability for organisations that wish to work together through joint delivery of public services. In addition, the framework specifies common elements such as vocabulary, concepts, principles, policies, guidelines, recommendations and best practices to be used for data exchange and sharing.
This framework will be aligned to all relevant Public Service of Namibia IT, e-Government and IT Security policies.
• Ndeshipanda Ndilula is the Director of Quality Assurance and Standard in the Department of Public Service IT Management in the Office of the Prime Minister.