Standardisation is not one of the sexier topics that we have to consider when looking at smart city development, but it is one of the most important. Imagine where we would be without standards, we know what time it is because of a standard, we know what day and month it is because of a standard and in fact you are able to read this article because at some point someone decided to put a standard on language and how it should be written.
So, what is the European Interoperability Framework (EIF)?
In this instance I will use the words on the EIF website “ It offers public administrations 47 concrete recommendations on how to improve governance of their interoperability activities, establish cross-organisational relationships, streamline processes supporting end-to-end digital services, and ensure that both existing and new legislation do not compromise interoperability efforts.”
One of the key priorities for the European Commission is to create a Digital Single Market in Europe, the EIF has been updated (from its first edition in 2010) in order to help in the transition towards a more coherent and interoperable digital landscape.
So, what are the benefits of the EIF?
The majority of public administrations are digitising their systems in one way or another, whether it be in the services that they are offering to citizens or in the way that they are making use of the data that they have at their disposal. The EIF provides a framework for the digitalisation of services, the advantage of this is that all EU countries will then follow the same process which will then help with the interoperability across the continent.
By implementing new services and systems within the framework it will ensure that services are not only available in one country, but that they are accessible from other countries within the EU. Such interoperability should in the long term mean a simpler implementation of solutions, imagine that you are a software provider of a certain digital product or service. The EIF will allow you to know that when you are going to be implementing the solution within public administration in EU that the same standard will be used in all countries. Rather than needing new experience and expertise in each country you can utilise the knowledge and experience that you already have from previous implementations in the framework.
All in all this should mean 2 things. Firstly, more efficient implementation of digital services and systems, we all know that when it comes to software implementation time really is money. Secondly, public administrations will be able to provide better services for citizens. Put simply the EIF should help EU countries to save money, provide better services and improve citizens lives. All of this sounds great, but as with all such frameworks the proof will be in the pudding, so we shall see in 2020 (when the current framework is to have been implemented by) if this really has meant an improvement in standardisation and quality of life across Europe.