Open Standards and Interoperability Debate Hots Up!

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Globally, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) are responsible for approving an international standard. Currently, there is a lot of advocacy and activism towards approving a new open standard. The rationale: once an international standard is approved, there is a huge impact in emerging markets for that standard. Often governments and major customers of software are keen to follow standards and would more desirously, apply interoperability for their services.

This is a very important issue of discussion and debate for the e-Governance scenario. Not only for online databases but also for documentation standards.  The power of the Internet and the processes, that the corporate houses applying for standards have to undergo, shows that there is always likely to be a clash of views and interests. Country representatives in the ISO/IEC committee will be the members who vote and decide applications for approval of standards.

If a country absents itself, their votes are not counted. For a standard to pass through the next phase, there will have to be a clear two thirds voting in favour.  For example, in the past, when the Open Document Format (ODF) was voted, they were voted on and approved without any single negative vote.

What does this debate mean to the e-Governance community? It indicates very clearly that there is lot of confusing statements floating around, not many are aware of the debate, the issues and the concerns. Not all clarifications are written in simple language for a wide range of practitioners to understand.

In this issue of egov, we bring you the international perspective, the national government perspectives and industry perspectives on open standards, interoperability, data sharing, and audits for standards. This issue is an attempt to help more stakeholders to understand the importance of this issue for e-governance for the enabling effective decision making as well as to plan future programmes. A truly well defined Knowledge Society will allow knowledge to flow across borders seamlessly, and move across programmes and projects without being locked by the software on which the public domain knowledge is built on.

We look forward to your inputs and feedback on other issues of e-Governance that you would like us to cover.

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