X-Road: The data pipe

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Estonia stands as a model for rest of the world when it comes to e-governance. The progress of the country in employing information technology for the benefit of citizen has been so much that it is now called e-Estonia.

If we look at the infrastructure that led Estonia to this stage, X-Road and e-ID are the notable ones. This article will talk about X-Road.

X-road is the backbone of communication and data exchange in Estonia. Over 900 organizations (public and private) daily use x-road for consuming and delivering over 45 Million e-services per month. Originally X-Road was simply used to send queries to different databases. Now it has developed into a tool that can also write to multiple databases, transmit large data sets and perform searches across several databases simultaneously. X-Road can be scaled up as new e-services and new platforms come online.

“Joining the X-Road enables institutions to save resources, since a cooperative and secure data exchange layer already exists with all the other X-Road members.”

During data exchange, X-Road ensures its parties with:

·  Autonomy – an X-Road member defines, which data services it wishes to render and who gains access rights to the services

· Confidentiality – information reaches only the authorized parties

· Evidential value – using a digital signature enables proving the source of received data

· Interoperability – all X-Road members speak the same language, regardless of the technology or architecture a member is using.

   The essence of the X-road is a pipe transport system, or, if you prefer a stellar stargate system, to ensure connectivity among participants. Thus, the first step to engaging with the X-Road is to hook into the pipe system, i.e. get membership of the X-Road Club. After your building has been outfitted with piping, you can make requests of the pipe system’s other constituent members. Still there is a limitation: you only can request data from those with whom you have a usage agreement.

In other words your organizations’s membership in the X-Road will give you access to the pipeline transmission system. But only via agreements with each particular data provider will your organization be able to access the other member’s data. Further, and more importantly, you will be able to access the data of another X-Road member only in accordance with the terms of your agreement with them

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