Interoperability in e-Governance is defined as the “ability of different systems to work together, by communicating, interpreting and exchanging the information in a meaningful way”. The interactions between all stakeholders are achieved, by sharing of information and knowledge through the business processes they support.
The purpose of Interoperability Framework for e-Governance (IFEG) in Indian context is to provide background on issues and challenges for establishing interoperability and information sharing among e-Governance systems. It will also offer a set of specific recommendations which can be adopted by various stakeholders to proactively address the challenges in interoperability.
The Technical Standards listed in the document shall be used in all e-Governance Applications by the concerned Project teams in all Departments and agencies at Central/State Government level, ICT Industry (playing the roles of suppliers, developers, implementers and maintainers, integrators,service-providers) implementing e-Governance projects and applications.
In IFEG, the 'Areas' for e-Governance applications have been categorized under seven broad domains, they are:
a. Presentation and Archival
c. Data Integration
e. Data Interchange
f. Network Access and Application
In cases, where a standard for an Area meeting all the mandatory characteristics as per the Policy on Open Standards is not available, an alternate standard may be temporarily adopted which is referred to as Interim Standard. This Interim standard shall be identified by relaxing the mandatory characteristics until the standard becomes eligible.
In cases, where no standard is available for an Area meeting the essential functional requirements, GoI shall adopt the most appropriate option, in the following order of preference, as an Interim Standard.
Specifications as per mature Open source reference implementation(s), where applicable.
Published proprietary specifications as per mature implementation(s).
Development of a new standard by the Designated Body.
for details, please refer Section 4.3 and 4.4 of the document 'Policy on Open Standards for e-Governance').
A Standard is considered as matured if its different implementations - proprietary/open are available, widely adopted and have been stable for some time.
GoI shall endeavour to adopt Single and Royalty-Free (RF) Open Standard for an “Area”. However, in view of the sufficient technical justification and in the wider public interest, Additional Open Standards in the same “Area” may be considered by GoI, based on the recommendations of the Designated Body. Such standard shall be compatible and bi-directionally interoperable with the already existing selected Open Standard.
An Evolving Standard is a standard which meets the maximal functional requirements and are progressing towards Maturity.
A Standard which is matured and still in use but receiving less support or are being superseded by an evolving standard.
GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format, introduced by CompuServe in 1987 which is being widely used because of its support and portability. It was introduced to provide small size color images. It uses up to 8 bits to represent each pixel. It is not suitable for photographs and color images with continuous colors because of its color limitation. But it is well-suited for reproducing solid color images and photos.
GIF 87a was the initial version of GIF format. Then the enhanced version GIF 89a came which added support for animation delays, transparent background colors and storage of application-specific metadata. The GIF 89a specification also supports incorporating of text labels as text, instead for embedding them into images. With these added features, GIF 89a is preferred over GIF 87a.
(For details, please refer Section 5.2.5 of the document ‘Technical Standards for Interoperability Framework for E-Governance in India’).
11. What is the scope of HTML and which version is best suited under the domain Area “Presentation and Archival”?
HTML is widely adopted global standard for simple hypertext web content. The scope of HTML is to:
- Publish online static documents with headings, text, tables, lists, photos, etc.
- Retrieve online information via hypertext links, at the click of a button.
- Design forms for conducting transactions with remote services, searching for information, making reservations, ordering products, etc.
- Include spread-sheets, video clips, sound clips, and other applications directly in the documents.
HTML 5 is best suited under the domain Area “Presentation and Archival”.
The purpose of this standard is to provide wireless connectivity to automatic machinery equipment, or STAs that require rapid deployment, which may be portable or hand-held, or which may be mounted on moving vehicles within a local area. This standard also offers regulatory bodies as a means of standardizing access to one or more frequency bands for local area communication.
(For details, please refer Section 5.2.9 of the document ‘Technical Standards for Interoperability Framework for E-Governance in India’).
a. HTTP and HTTPs
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is an application-level protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. It is a generic, stateless, protocol which can be used for many tasks beyond its use for hypertext, such as name servers and distributed object management systems, through extension of its request methods, error codes and headers.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is a web protocol based on Hype Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and SSL/TLS protocol to provide encrypted communication and secure identification of a network web server. HTTP functions as a request-response protocol in the client-server computing model. It is designed to withstand such attacks and is considered secure against attacks and vulnerability.
(For details, please refer Sections 5.2.7 & 5.2.8 of the document ‘Technical Standards for Interoperability Framework for E-Governance in India’).
b. IPv4 and IPv6
IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) is the fourth revision of Internet Protocol used in Internet Layer and is widely deployed version compared to others. It is a connectionless protocol used in packet-switched link layer networks. It works on best effort delivery model, in that it assures proper sequencing and avoid duplication; however it doesn’t ensure the delivery time or guaranteed delivery of data packets, it all depends on the network traffic.
IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is a new version of the Internet Protocol, designed as the successor to IP version 4 (IPv4) [RFC-791]. It mainly concentrates on the areas like IPv4 address exhaustion, Multicast, Stateless address auto-configuration (SLAAC), IPSec, Simplified processing by routers, Mobility and Jumbo grams. It uses 128 bit for addressing whereas IPv4 uses 32 bit. So it allows wide range of addresses to identify devices on the network. IPv4 limits the payload packets to 65535 (216-1) octets while IPv6 allows (232-1) octets per payload which will increase the performance of network connections.
(For details, please refer Sections 5.2.11 & 5.2.12 of the document ‘Technical Standards for Interoperability Framework for E-Governance in India’).
c. PDF and PDF/A
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format for document exchange. It is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner which is independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout 2D document that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2D vector graphics which compose the documents. PDF files are viewable and printable on virtually any platform — Mac OS, Microsoft® Windows®, UNIX®, Linux and many mobile platforms.
PDF/A is a standard which turns Portable Document Format (PDF) into an “electronic document file format for long-term preservation”. PDF/A is a subset of PDF and is viewable and printable on virtually any platform — Mac OS, Microsoft® Windows®, UNIX®, Linux and many mobile platforms.
(For details, please refer Sections 5.2.17 & 5.2.18 of the document ‘Technical Standards for Interoperability Framework for E-Governance in India’).
Following are the steps/ best practices for implementation of Technical standards:
- For new e-Governance projects, right from the conceptualization and design stage, the Technical Standards listed in the document, and other e-Governance standards published by GoI from time to time, must be adhered to. For this purpose, all Interoperability Areas covered under applicability of Policy on Open Standards requiring use of Standards must be identified. The listed standard must be used for the Areas identified and covered. If any Area is not covered in this document, it should be flagged and communicated to GoI at the earliest for evaluation.
- The project proposals /Request For Proposals (RFP) should ensure compliance to technical standards published in this standard document.
- Conformance to the identified standards in the specified Areas should be ensured during the e-Governance project life cycle using suitable mechanism in consultation with DeitY.
- In case of Interim or Matured but Declining or Evolving standards, one should look for updates, if any from time to time.
- New versions of legacy applications should ensure adherence to the standard specifications.