eGovernment at W3C
findings so far


This document is here for historical reasons. It describes ideas coming from discussions that took place at the eGovernment Workshops organized in 2007. It also reflects the exchanges that happened between the author and other staff and relevant stakeholders since January 2007 until March 2008. W3C has started an eGovernment Activity and Interest Group. Work is being conducted there. Please, see the eGovernment home page for more information.


After two workshops, meetings and discussions with many stakeholders, there are several key lessons learned that could serve as the basis for future work at W3C. Although many of those are difficult to categorize in just one category and there is some overlap, we would like to highlight four areas of interest.

Openness and Transparency

The development of standards-based interoperable frameworks improve efficiencies and increase the value of IT investmentsĀ 
  • Adherence to standards makes it easier for the content providers to serve browser-independent content. Web Accessibility is a good and known example.
  • Government leadership is important in getting the technology vendors and the content providers to do the right thing for all citizens.
  • Get information on the Web in any open, public format at all. Once information is on the Web, we can work on semantically enabling it, but if it is not up at all nothing can be done.

Interoperability and Data Integration

Basic Interoperability
  • What about Web pages that can only be accessed using a given browser? This is still a problem.
  • New technologies, old problems, e.g.:
    • Multi-channel delivery.
    • Many devices, browsers (difficult to build an interoperable solution), e.g. see the Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) work.
Semantic Interoperability
  • Lots of initiatives and interoperability frameworks built or in the works.
  • Usually work only in a given context (national, regional...), hard to interoperate between them yet.
  • Producing XML does not mean to be interoperable and sometimes the cost of transformation is huge.
  • Interoperability is not (only) a technical issue.
Use Semantic Web technologies
  • allows mixing data from very different sources.
  • no need to throw away your existing data or systems, just build on top.
  • share, publish, use standards (RDF, OWL, SPARQL...).
  • use IDs (URIs).
  • "publishing data with (un)expected re-use in mind" (data mashups).
  • Linked Data is the goal: All public sector information published by governments should be presented on the Web using standard structure data and semantic web formats so that users and third-party service providers can explore, discover and exploit links amongst this data and links between PSI and other information on the Web.
  • Shift the risk and share the rewards: giving independent service creators open data leverages their energy.

Privacy, Security, Trust

Creating a Trust Context for Citizens
  • Opacity vs. Transparency
    • use the data for the purpose it was collected.
    • eg: eID projects to achieve pan-european services.
  • Digital Identity (manly eIDs).
  • Web Security Context to build trust.
  • Need to increase citizens usage of government services.

Bridging the Digital Divide

New issues arise
  • Connectivity
    • eg: Angola or Malaysia, where +80% connectivity is concentrated around the capital city.
    • eg: Brazil, where the Amazon is 10Km wide in some areas.
  • What services to prioritize?
  • Need to build local capacities.
  • Basic training about all things "eGovernment and the Web", starting from the simplest ones.
Mobile Web in Developing Countries
  • Mobile devices are often the only platform available to deliver content to under-privileged populations and rural communities.
  • Mobile phones as enablers of government services especially in these countries.
  • The Mobile Web is the most promising platform for low-cost large scale development, deployment and adoption of ICTs.
  • Work conducted in the eGovernment and Mobile fields at W3C shows that synergies come up often, especially when talking about Developing Countries so we also expect to coordinate with possible future MWI efforts in this front.