Interoperability is "[t]he ability of systems and data to work seamlessly together."
[t]he ability of independent systems to exchange meaningful information and initiate actions from each other, in order to operate together to mutual benefit. In particular, it envisages the ability for loosely-coupled independent systems to be able to collaborate and communicate; the possibility of use in services outside the direct control of the issuing assigner.
the ability of telecommunications resources to provide services to and accept services from other telecommunications resources and to use the services so exchanged to enable them to operate effectively together.
In theoretical terms, interoperability functions across four broad layers of complex systems: technological, data, human, institutional. For many people, it is the exchange of data through technological means that comes to mind when they think about interoperability, but the human and institutional aspects of interoperability are just as important.
Data: Without the ability to understand and process what is being transmitted, it is insufficient for technologicalsystems to have the capacity to pass bits from one system to another. The data layer is the ability of interconnected systems to understand each other. Anyone who has ever received an e‐mail attachment that their computer could not open understands that simply having the technological capacity to receive data is not the same as interoperability at the data layer.
Human: This layer is the ability for humans to understand and act on the data that is exchanged. Although it is more abstract than the technological and data layers, it can be just as crucial for interoperability.
Institutional: The institutional layer is the ability of societal systems to engage effectively. The legal system is one example of an institutional layer of interoperability. Interoperability at the institutional layer does not require homogeneity of legal systems; it instead requires only enough commonality to protect the interest of both parties.
Interoperability of databases and software is important to enable the search and analysis of multiple databases simultaneously, and to help ensure the compatibility of data mining activities. Data mining projects that are trying to take advantage of existing legacydatabases or that are initiating first-time collaborative efforts with other organizations may experience interoperability problems. Similarly, as organizations move forward with the creation of new databases and information sharing efforts, they will need to address interoperability issues during their planning stages to better ensure the effectiveness of their data mining projects.
↑The White House, (Draft) National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace: Creating Options for Enhanced Online Security and Privacy 33 (June 25, 2010).
↑Recovery Act Financial Assistance, Funding Opportunity Announcement. U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Smart Grid Investment Grant Program Funding Opportunity Number: DE-FOA-0000058.