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New obligatory IT standards for the state sector adopted

The Norwegian government has adopted a series of new obligatory IT standards for the state sector. Now it will be easier for users to get access to information material offered by the government - whether it be graphics, videos, sound or picture material - regardless of which software and computer equipment is being used.

The Norwegian government has adopted a series of new obligatory IT standards for the state sector. Now it will be easier for users to get access to information material offered by the government - whether it be graphics, videos, sound or picture material - regardless of which software and computer equipment is being used.

This is the second step in a long term effort by the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform to establish recommended and obligatory IT standards to be used by public institutions and enterprises. The new obligatory standards are included in the Reference catalogue, accessible on the government website www.regjeringen.no (in Norwegian). This catalogue already contains obligatory document formats for web publication. The purpose of the standards is e.g. to provide simpler and more effective electronic interaction within the public sector and between public institutions and the users.

- All users are supposed to have equal access to public information and services on the internet. The state should not discriminate users based on what kind of technical equipment and soft ware they are using. This decision means that the users are granted a right to watch or download multi-media material from the state in open format; that is, formats not locked to specific suppliers in the market, reform minister Heidi Grande Røys says.

In short, this is the content of the government decision:

  • On government operated web sites, from 1.1.2012 it will be obligatory to publish multimedia content in open formats:
    - For video:  Theora/Vorbis/Ogg or H.264/AAC/MP4.
    - For sound: Vorbis/Ogg, MP3 or FLAC/Ogg.
    - For pictures: JPEG or PNG.
  • When exchanging documents as attachments to e-mail between government institutions and users, from 1.1.2011 it will be obligatory to use the document formats PDF or ODF.
  • Version change: From 1.1.2010 the ODF version 1.1 is to be used.
  • The standard for character sets ISO10646, represented by UTF8, is to be used at all new ICT projects in the government sector. From 1.1.2012, UTF8 is to be used during electronic information exchange. It will possible to make exemptions from this demand in special cases.

The UTF8 decision is an important step in enabling the public sector to handle characters in the Sami language and other languages in a correct way. At first, the obligatory demands will only be applied to the state sector. The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform is planning regulations to make the obligatory standards applicable for the municipal sector as well.