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Case study: the interoperable future of AmI Environments  Foreword



James Backhouse, LSE 


This report has ranged over a wide terrain of interoperability issues and a number of conclusions may be drawn.  

  1. It has demonstrated the value of a relatively simple three level framework of technical, formal and informal aspects for reviewing interoperability issues of different types of IMS.  The work of creating interoperability will certainly be aided by widespread adherence to common frameworks.  It will be a recurring theme within WorkPackage 4 to search for frameworks that can simplify the task of developing the interoperability of identity management systems. The framework will need to incorporate elements for assessing the degree to which a given IMS performs on each of the three levels.

  2. While technical standards can remove much of the uncertainty surrounding the compatibility of such systems, developing and specifying such standards is but the first step in the process of interoperation.  

  3. Further work lies in the task of reconciling the legislative and policy rules that govern the way that personal information and identity management is processed and exchanged.  At this level there has been progress with the European Union developing its strategies to prepare the ground for electronic IDs for e-government and e-health.  Of course there is uneven progress as different countries proceed at different rates – but this is nothing new.

  4. At the social and cultural level, considerable importance lies in understanding the different normative contexts in which IMS are built and operated.  Different perspectives on identity prevail in different national and regional environments and these need to be understood and addressed before progress towards interoperability may be made.  Where there is resistance to the untrammelled transfer of identity and personal information, riding roughshod over deeply held views will not necessarily resolve the issue.  It may be necessary to enter into dialogues about the benefits that ensue in return for access.  This means policymakers must assess public sentiment and the privacy impact of the IMS and act accordingly before pitching headlong into implementations that may arouse deep suspicions and resentment. In some contexts interoperability is seen as the enemy of privacy. Indeed, lack of interoperability may be seen as a bulwark against intrusion into the privacy of personal information.  Privacy activists take comfort from the fact that different IMS may not be able to exchange identity information.  In these contexts, regard must be had for the role and powers of the data subjects in consenting to their personal information being exchanged between systems.


The database of documents treating interoperability that has been created in this WorkPackage is seen as a significant development for FIDIS and aims to form a living and growing resource to support future research and inquiry. 



WorkPackage 4 has a number of deliverables currently developed or under preparations: 

In the First WorkPlan Months 1-18 

    1. D 4.1 Structured account of approaches on interoperability 

    2. D 4.2 Requirements for interoperability 

    3. D 4.3 Thematic Workshop (held March 2005) 


In the Second WorkPlan Months 18-30 

    1. D 4.4 Survey on interoperable systems 

    2. D 4.5 A paper on findings of survey 

    3. D 4.6 Best Practice Guidelines 




Case study: the interoperable future of AmI Environments  fidis-wp4-del4.1.account_interoperability_02.sxw  References
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