X-Road – cross-border co-development of national data exchange platform
Since 2001, X-Road has been the backbone of e-Estonia. It is the invisible yet crucial environment that allows the nation's e-services databases, both in the public and private sector, to link up and operate in harmony. Today, thanks to X-Road, more than 1 000 inter-connected databases covering some 1 700 services helps answer more than 50 million enquiries every month.
" Joint development of the X-Road platform by two the governmental authorities of two countries has been a challenge. It is even more challenging to actually deploy and use core platform components that have been developed by other countries. We see a great value in cooperation and reuse – so with this project we are about to make X-Road development and deployment internationally feasible. With this we are improving our own work and moving towards better integration between information systems. "
This project builds on X-Road’s success by creating a joint data exchange platform between Estonia and neighbouring Finland. As a result, databases in both countries can interface, assist with cross-border services and make e-services accessible to both Estonian and Finnish citizens.
X-Road enables a wide range of otherwise complex cross-border services to be offered quickly and conveniently in both countries, including:
- electronically registering a new residence;
- checking one’s personal data (address registration, exam results, health insurance, etc.) from the national databases;
- declaring taxes electronically;
- checking the validity of a driver’s license and vehicle registration;
- automatically registering a new-born child for health insurance.
The challenge of cooperation
The project started by creating a sufficient set of regression tests for the existing X-Road platform and then worked to coordinate the development and interoperability of both systems. This coordination proved to be one of the project’s biggest challenges. As Finland adopts X-Road as its national data exchange platform, it is essential that it maintains interoperability with the Estonian version.
As changes to the platform are made by Estonian Information System Authority (EE) and Population Registry Centre (FI), it is crucial to ensure the quality and persistence of the core system. This interoperability can only be achieved when development is aligned and the roadmap is mutually agreed to. This also means that changes committed to the platform must be approved and verified at a fast pace – specifically if the changes have been made by the development team of the other country.
Whether in Estonia or Finland, interacting with public offices can be tedious – at best. Data is gathered into compartmentalised systems, such as a registry for health insurance, taxes, social insurance, etc. This makes changing information difficult, so the pieces of information concerning an individual seldom fit together properly or easily. This is why individuals often find themselves presenting the same forms and papers over and over again.
X-Road changes everything. It not only enables different public-sector data systems in a single country to understand each other, it also allows systems located in different countries – such as Estonia and Finland – to communicate and synchronise information. This is essential for a mobile society, especially in cross-border regions like Finland and Estonia where citizens live and work on both side of the borders.
The X-Road system is digital, fast and secure. It can also be connected to similar systems, meaning data networks can be effortlessly expanded, and the international exchange of information simplified.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “The Cross-Border Cooperation of the X-Road” is estimated to be EUR 252 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund covering up to EUR 352 000 through the “Cohesion Policy Funding” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.