Extensive testing to ensure reliable access to basic data
The Basic Data Programme interconnects a number of Denmark’s most important public registers to create reliable access to coherent high-quality data. As this data is essential for a large number of users, a specially designed testing procedure is currently being carried out to ensure that all systems operate properly and smoothly.
Imagine the following situation: a house-owner decides to sell part of her land plot. This means that the land parcel on which her house is situated must now be divided into two parcels. Even though this may sound like a relatively simple matter, it involves making changes in a number of registers containing property and address details.
This information is kept up to date in various registers that currently use slightly different formats. Consequently, it can be difficult to exchange information between the registers – and thereby outdated information may be stored in different registers because a change reported to one register is not always in the other registers. This means that both citizens and public authorities can encounter incorrect data which complicates the case processing and frustrates citizens.
The Basic Data Programme addresses this problem by integrating the registers, so that information as far as possible is stored in one register and standardised across all areas. Put slightly simplistically, we are building a number of interconnected systems that allow registers to retrieve information from each other.
It will ensure up-to-date information, remove double registrations and pave the way to providing new data services – but it also means that a basic data register in the future will interplay with other registers.
Our example of selling part of a land plot shows that this interplay is more complex than it first appears. The house-owner’s land parcel division requires namely that changes are made in no fewer than five different registers. Therefore, considerable energy is being invested in carrying out extensive testing to ensure that all registers function smoothly in the new, interconnected system.
A year’s testing of the interplay
The Basic Data Programme’s tests are divided into five separate phases. Whilst a standard test procedure will often only comprise the supplier’s and the customer’s test of whether the purchased system functions as agreed, we have added three further test phases. The whole testing period will stretch over a year (see factbox below).
The first of the three additional phases is the so-called interface test, in which the registers test whether they are able to extract data from each other. Here, the registers will thus test each other’s services to ensure that they are all mutually compatible.
The second phase is the integration test, in which a number of selected procedures – such as the aforementioned division of a land parcel – are tested to see whether the combined registers operate properly and smoothly when interconnected.
The fifth and final phase begins with an internal user test followed by an external user test in which central users in the public and private sectors, respectively, test their own systems against the new basic data registers’ services on the Data Distributor – the new shared public data distribution platform. The purpose of the internal and external user test is to ensure that the new systems match the needs of users working in functions vital to society, such as the Danish Agency Udbetaling Danmark (Payments Denmark - responsible for payments on behalf of public authorities), local government case administration, the new property valuation systems, or the mortgage credit sector.
After conducting the user tests, the implementation of the new basic data systems will begin. This will take place in stages and with parallel operation periods in which internal and external users can continue to retrieve data from the current distribution channels.
Coherence between systems
Ms. Stine Kern Licht at the Agency for Data Supply and Efficiency (SDFE) is project leader for the test project. She stresses that the project requires great effort on the part of everyone involved; “It is a complex test project because there are so many mutual dependencies between registers, which previously functioned within a ‘silo structure’. Therefore, besides the numerous technical challenges, we are also dealing with a change project, where the registers are part of a shared public infrastructure that interacts with the other registers and a shared public component designed to distribute data to users .
The Agency for Digitisation’s Division for Basic Data is the secretariat for the programme’s management team, the Basic Data Management Committee and is responsible for driving forward and coordinating the Basic Data Programme. “We closely follow what is happening in the test project. Basic data is critical to both public sector service delivery and private sector customers, and it is crucial that we ensure the systems are thoroughly tested. We may continue to encounter technical faults that risk putting us behind schedule, but it is better to address them now rather than later. Our goal is to ensure users a smooth and stable transition to basic data,” says Mr. Per Gade, Head of the Division for Basic Data.
So far the tests have also been worth the effort, as they have identified several challenges. Fortunately, these have been fewer than feared. “The registers’ own tests took longer to conduct than we had anticipated. But on the other hand, they have been thorough, which means that we have been able to eliminate many technical faults that would otherwise delay the testing between registers”, says Ms. Stine Kern Licht.
This does not mean that new challenges will not continue to appear: “The testing reveals some other issues regarding the way that requests and updates are exchanged between the registers,” says Ms. Licht,who is coordinating closely with the Agency for Digitisation to solve the remaining challenges.
Read more about the Basic Data Programme here