Governments are realizing that in order to achieve a fully digital public administration, public services should be allowed to exchange data in real time faciliating the only-once principle wherein citizens don’t have to repeat share data which government already holds. Portugal has a platform to potentiate interoperability in Public Administration named iAP. Through a resolution of Council of Ministers 42/2015, iAP is mandated for preferential platform as a means for exchange of information among departments. It was started in March 2015, and covers national scope.
“Facilitating interoperability helps reduce cost, accelerate integration time, simplify procedures and rationalize applications thereby improving access of citizens and businesses to information from multiple entities of central government.”
The iAP project addresses all levels of interoperability (legal, organizational, semantic and technical). iAP essentially comprises of:
- Integration Platform: This allows integration of information systems of member entities through service-oriented architecture, covering the technical and semantic components of interoperability.
- Public Administration Payment Platform: Offers public administration’s information systems multiple payment methods for different assistance channels, with integrated management, control and monitoring.
- Public Administration SMS gateway: Allows sending and receiving SMS between public administration and citizens, supporting transaction services and informative services such as e-agenda notices for citizens, voter registration, SMS trailer and Citizens shop queue system etc.
- Authentication provider: Enabling Single sign-on, authentication mechanism and identity management. Ensure citizen security, confidentiality and security of data. The platform also maintains public and private area. Private area is one where services are specific to entities registered with iAP and is not open to general public.
The technology is based on SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and open standards, providing real time access to authentic sources of information and an Identity Federation mechanism. Many web service integration protocols are supported such as SOAP, REST, Web Service Reliable Messaging, security with username and token profile. The orchestration module uses Apache ODE. The high availability is provided by an asychronous architecture.
The option of an Identity Federation Mechanism allows data exchange between different information systems without sharing sectorial knowledge and ensures, for example, that justice can send a message using the civil identification number of a citizen to the finance system, which receives the information along with the VAT number, allowing personal data protection within public administration.
Agency for Administrative Modernization (AMA) is in charge of this project and oversees the management of platform in a single back office. AMA also provides citizen support, maintains services catalog and canonical data model. The Canonical Data Model is reference guide for data communication between between entities that subscribe to iAP services. There is a usage cost of iAP services and is intended to cover the expenses at maintaining the platform.
The platform guarantees the necessary mechanism to control transactions, information quality and transparency in business processes. Per the information published on 05th Sep 2019, 35 entities are already using iAP and more than 1.4 billion messages have exchanged using the platform.