Interoperability key themes

Interoperability is built around the five key themes of business, security, legal, semantic and technical.

Building interoperability needs technical solutions, but your agency's success and level of maturity will vary according to how well business, security, legal and semantic considerations have been implemented.

The key themes address the complex nature of creating and maintaining interoperable information, systems and processes.

Your information governance committee or equivalent can help you coordinate initiatives across the themes by implementing information and data governance mechanisms such as frameworks, policies and standards.

Interoperability key themes presented as a diagram: technical, business, security, legal, semantic.


The business theme ensures processes, responsibilities and expectations for exchanging data and information are aligned across all relevant stakeholders. Key considerations include:

  • understanding how information and data assets are used to meet business outcomes
  • working with stakeholder and community and expectations, for example, designing and delivering services for stakeholders that span across government agencies
  • understanding operational and strategic requirements and expectations for sharing and receipt
  • aligning requirements to similar enterprises, for example, financial transaction regulation or geospatial and criminal intelligence
  • implementing an 'open by default' position and identifying exceptions through risk assessments


The security theme ensures data is protected and the risks of data and information exchange are managed. Key considerations include:

  • determining security classifications and user permissions
  • meeting Protective Security Policy Framework and Information Security Manual requirements, for example, for the authentication and encryption of data
  • working collaboratively to develop comprehensive risk assessment procedures for information and data
  • undertaking data risk assessments across multiple business systems including those that target concerns such as sharing sensitive information
  • developing standard workflows for removing personal or identifiable information from data to be published
  • verifying your published datasets on a routine basis

The legal theme ensures legal, privacy and ethical requirements are met when exchanging or using information and data. Key considerations include:

  • meeting legislative, regulatory and ethical requirements including Australian Privacy Principles
  • ensuring source and combined data is trusted and complete
  • determining custody, ownership, sharing or usage rights
  • creating data sharing arrangements, including memorandums of understanding, service level agreements or licences


The semantic theme ensures that users and systems understand the meaning of exchanged information and data as intended. Key considerations include:

  • tools to control the use of terms and language, such as taxonomies, thesauri, ontologies, data dictionaries and classification schemes
  • using metadata standards and schemas
  • using data quality reporting outputs to help understand and assess the usefulness of data
  • developing and maintaining enterprise data models, master data and data quality standards


The technical theme enables platforms, systems and applications to exchange or process information and data. Key considerations include:

  • using whole-of-Government platforms
  • selecting machine readable file formats – and where feasible, open and not 'locked in'
  • using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to allow consumers to integrate with agencies' data
  • publishing web services to enable the sharing of data
  • using tools to help catalogue and profile information and data across an agency
  • creating digital services such as customer portals which streamline data collection and validation
  • using technologies to transform and improve legacy data
  • using standardised data exchange specifications