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Enter e-Estonia: interoperability

The third video in the Enter e-Estonia: the video series takes a look at interoperability services. This is the invisible backbone of e-Estonia’s digital services and is the way in which each online entity is able to communicate with one another, quickly and securely.

In this video: interoperability

To build Estonia’s digital society, it was not feasible to allow each government agency to ask for and store the user’s data. Such data duplication would make these agencies more susceptible to coordinated cyber attacks, as well as make it difficult to keep an individual’s information up-to-date.

The solution to this was Estonia’s adoption of the “once-only principle,” whereby the user’s data is effectively divided up amongst the different agencies. This means information such as the user’s address can only be asked for and stored by one authority, in this case the population registry. If another agency wants to access this address, then they must send an electronic request to verify this information. But how can this be accomplished in a safe manner?

Every digital service as well as the organisation or institution behind the service must be able to connect to the X-road. This software provides a way to link each entity’s information system to another via a secure data exchange platform.

The X-road is responsible for connecting 150 public sector institutions with one another, in addition to 450 different organisations and enterprises. This amounts to more than 3000 services on offer!

Moreover, not only are information systems connected on the national level, but since 2018, an agreement between Estonia and Finland established a federation. This allows the two countries to share data internationally and makes room for more opportunities to establish digital business opportunities, cross-border cooperation, and policy coordination.

None of this could be possible, however, without a high level of trust from the users of the system. As such, cyber security is an important issue, and one that will be discussed in our next week’s video. See you then!

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