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ICAR - Interoperability and Application Cooperation among Regions


The ICAR project is co-funded in the ongoing second phase of the Italian e-government plan for Regional and Local Authorities, line 1, which addresses the establishment of the so-called SPC – Sistema Pubblico di Connettività e Cooperazione (Public Connectivity and Cooperation System) i.e. the secure network for central and local government authorities, delivering interoperability (IO) and applications cooperation (AC) services to them.

ICAR’s budget is approximately 25 M€, of which 9.5 million provided by Cnipa (National Center for Informatics in Public Administration). 16 Regions and the Autonomous Province of Trento participate in ICAR (out of Italy’s 21 Regions) and the project is coordinated nationally by CISIS, the association of CIO’s of Regional Authorities.

The project was formally approved in June 2005 and is starting on a full scale in June 2006.


ICAR’s objectives are:

 to establish the secure interconnection of regional public administration (PA) networks following the rules of SPC;

 to guarantee data exchanges and application cooperation across all PA in different regions;

 implement and test standard protocols and formats for data exchange in a number of critical application/business domains for the delivery of services to end users by Regional Authorities.

Architectural aspects

According to the model agreed for the SPC, AC is based on the exchange of messages between systems/applications based in different organisational domains, but usually in the same business domain (health services, civil registration services etc.). In order for it to work, the exchange of messages must be based on shared rules. Specifically, the messages must have a standard and shared format, at interregional level, both for the “envelope” (with information about sender, receiver and so on) and for its content, e.g. civil registration data of a citizen requesting health services. ICAR therefore must address two levels of complexity:

 one at infrastructural level, which deals with the general mechanisms and services to exchange messages across different business domains;

 the other, closely linked to the business domain, which deals with the message’s content and is addressed by Application Integration Services.

Infrastructural services for IO e AC

Infrastructural IO e AC services must guarantee that the application services belonging to different Regional Authorities can talk to each other, according to the interaction paradigms (service request/event notification) and to the collaboration profiles (synchronous/asynchronous) which have been chosen for cooperation at national level.

Such functions are application/business domain independent and can be distinguished as:

 services publishing and search services. The application services which have been enabled for cooperation must be published by the body which delivers them, i.e. information which is needed by potential users to access the service (service description, its physical and logical address, methods for remote invocation and application messages format) must be formalised and made available in standard ways, through appropriate schemes. The reference standard for Registry’s implementation and access is UDDI;

 messages exchange between application services. Communication takes place by sending-receiving a message. Cooperation is made possible by the adoption of a standard format for the “envelope” of the message (e-government envelope or an extension of it). The reference standard here is SOAP.

According the SPC’s specifications, ICAR will also provide: network resources management services, monitoring of the services levels achieved and interregional authentication services.

Application integration services

The application integration services have the task to convert data and documents from the specific format of each regional/local information system into the standard formats agreed at interregional level. The reference standards are XML (for the message’s content codification) and XML schemes (i.e. DTD and XML Schema), which allow to define the structure of the exchanged messages’ content and the shared vocabulary.

ICAR’s project structure

ICAR is made of 10 different sub-projects: three infrastructural ones plus seven application/business-oriented ones. Each sub-project is coordinated by one Leading Partner/Region and groups a variable number of other Regions/Partners.

In fact, all ICAR member Regions participate to the three infrastructural projects:

 INF-1 “Implementation of the base infrastructure for IO and AC at interregional level” aims at setting up the physical and logical infrastructure for IO and AC;

 INF-2 “Management of SLA tools at interregional level” aims to define common/shared services for the management of SLA tools needed for the constant monitoring of service levels achieved;

 INF-3 “Implementation of an interregional Federated Authentication System” aims to define and implement a federated authentication system at interregional level.

Each one of the seven application/business projects (AP 1-7) aims to test and to prove the quality and adequacy of the IO and AC infrastructural services, within specific business/application domains. The AP projects will produce the specifications for and implement the Application Integration Services needed to interface the existing applications at intra-regional level (legacy systems) and the inter-regional IO and AC infrastructural services (developed under INF 1-3).

The application/business domains have been selected based on three criteria:

 relevance/urgency of interregional AC needs in each domain;

 significance of the envisaged test in each domain for the overall validation of the interregional IO and AC system;

 number of Regions showing a real interest in participating to the test and making use of the results expected in each domain.

The AP projects are:

 AP-1 “Interregional cooperation and compensations in heath services” to support the delivery of health services and the automation of the related financial compensation flows at inter-regional level, which occur when a citizen is provided assistance in a different region from the one where he/she officially lives;

 AP-2 “Cooperation among civil registration services” (which are managed locally by Municipal Authorities) in order to allow citizens to get certificates or other services regardless of the geographical location of the front office attended for such request;

 AP-3 “Homogenous Organisational Area” (AOO in the Italian acronym) for the creation of a directory of regional AOOs federated with the national directory of public administrations (Index of PAs http: //www.indicepa.gov.it). The AOOs are the online access points to start administrative procedures with government offices and to manage the related in/out document flows, through electronic filing services. This project is a first step towards automation of inter-organisational document and case handling at inter-regional level;

 AP-4 “Job and employment services” in order to extend at inter-regional level important services which support the matching of demand/supply of job opportunities and workers mobility;

 AP-5 “Regional car tax” in order to support car tax collection and related procedures e.g. financial compensations among Regions for car sales or payments made by a citizen outside of his/her residence region;

 AP-6 “Interregional Observatory of the fuel distribution network” in order to gather and share statistical and technical data on the fuel distribution network which are needed to support optimisation policies of the network itself at interregional level;

 AP-7 “Interregional Information System with Cinsedo ” based on the federation of the regional statistics information systems, in order to support interregional policy definition and policy making processes by single Regional Authorities and by the Conference of the Presidents of Regions and Autonomous Provinces.