Interoperability – Data Geeks Have The Answer

Data geeks have had the answer for years but no-one has listened. Until now.

At the Defence Geospatial Intelligence (DGI) conference this week, many speakers, including the keynote speaker (Chief of Defence Intelligence – Lt Gen Hockenhull), talked about interoperability as one of the key challenges facing the intelligence community.

Interoperability means that different organisations can use the same data across various systems.  The problem is that the multiple systems have each been designed for a specific purpose.  For example, maritime data could be in multiple formats and used across navigation systems, Command & Control systems, Oceanography systems, and Environmental systems.

An additional commercial problem is that each organisation’s system is often proprietary with vendor lock-in so it’s very hard to become more open.  So interoperability becomes a question of “buy my system, put all your data in my system, and if every other organisation does the same then everyone can operate effectively”.

To enable interoperability, if organisations, and the DGI speakers, were serious, then change is required.  The change would be to mandate open standards for suppliers.  Open standards has long been the domain of data geeks.  But no longer.  In its 2018 policy paper, the Cabinet Office describes open standards as “….one of the most powerful tools we have to open up government”.

To solve this problem, Envitia has been working with a customer on a Data Model in the maritime domain that pulls in multiple sources of data, in this case maritime data sources such as navigation charting, marine environment, bathymetry, and seabed environment.  That data is cleansed, and transformed into a single source of maritime data, based on open standards, meaning that different organisations using different systems can use the same up-to-date data but for different purposes, and then share their data with various communities of interest.  This is a key part of the customer’s digital transformation journey to enable it to deliver bespoke digital products to its customers, in a much faster timescale. So quicker and better.

This capability has been around for a while as part of research and development for Envitia and other similar companies i.e. the data geeks.  However, the explosion of data and pressure to utilise multiple data sources has required a way of making them useable and interoperable.  The solution is already here.  

written by Nabil, CEO