E-Estonia X-Road : Middleware Platform for a Digital Nation

Estonia pioneered the first, and still the most effective, Government as a Platform architecture: X-Road.

X-Road – A National Data Sharing Platform

The backbone central to Estonia’s success as a digital nation is their ‘X-Road‘ system.

As this presentation describes, it is a central component feature that enabled their journey to become a world leading digital state.

The Nordic Institute for Interoperability Solutions (NIIS) is a non-profit association founded jointly by Finland and Estonia, and is responsible for the development and management of the X-Road core.

This diagram highlights how it acts as a single information sharing platform for inter-connecting all government systems and some commercial ones where appropriate.

X-Road is an open source data exchange layer solution that enables organizations to exchange information over the Internet. X-Road is a centrally managed distributed data exchange layer between information systems that provides a standardized and secure way to produce and consume services, and is released under the MIT open source license and is available free of charge for any individual or organization.

X-Road ensures confidentiality, integrity and interoperability between data exchange parties. X-Road is used nationwide in the Estonian data exchange layer X-tee and in the Data Exchange Layer service in Finland. However, X-Road is not just for public sector organisations – all kinds of organisations regardless of size or type can join the national environments and exchange data with other member organisations.

Two X-Road ecosystems can be joined together, federated. Members of the federated ecosystems can publish and consume services with each other as if they were members of the same ecosystem. Federation enables easy and secure cross-border data exchange between member states using X-Road.

Helpful implementation guides include:

This video shares a talk given by Petteri Kivimäki from NIIS at the 2019 Platform Summit in Stockholm, and this video shares an interview with Estonian CIO Siim Sikkut describing how the platform approach is fundamental to this capability.

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