Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Assessing standards - CAMSS

A couple of weeks ago I had a blog entry on the EU Commission's draft for the European Interoperability Framwork (EIF) version 2.0. Open standards are at the core of the EIF. Because open standards are a prerequisite for interoperability. However, openness is less an absolute criterion but more a scale of more or less open. The draft for new EIF 2.0 takes this into account.

Hence, where there is need for open standards there is need for properly assessing a standard in terms of openness. For that purpose, the EU Commission has complemented the draft EIF 2.0 with CAMSS, the Common Assessment Method for Standards and Specifications. The draft document has been published, as well, and comments may be submitted by September 15 at the latest.

In my view CAMSS is an excellent initiative and the method proposed does not only make sense but gives the appropriate set of criteria for assessing a standard in terms of openness. CAMSS provides a pragmatic approach for public authorities - and, actually, anybody else - to deal with standards and specifications and get a proper idea of how to classify them.

The detailed criteria are grouped in 4 categories. Suitability, Potential, Openness, Market Conditions. The fact that "Market Condition" is included here shows the strong basis of the EIF's open standards definition. Public authorities have a responsibility towards the tax payer and thus not only good reasons but every right to consider cost as a critical element alongside effectiveness and efficiency. Most notably, if public authorities wish to benefit from the open source movement and include open source offerings into their infrastructures they need to require royalty-free licensing conditions for IPR (in this case patents) present in standards. So the scale for assessment throughout the entire CAMSS is very clear: full openness is on the top.

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