Open Standards are useful when developing a technical system. They help to ensure that one application can work with another application in a common way.
They therefore provide flexibility to the solution, as they enable:
- Data to be shared
- Software to be written by different people or organisations
- Components to be reused and adapted
- And remove lock-in to a particular vendor or specific proprietary technology
In short, they give the owner (e.g. the person specifying / commissioning the system) the option to pick from different best-of-breed components that work together. Thus making switching one or more parts of the solution less difficult (e.g. expensive) at a later stage – potentially from smaller-sized vendors.
The transport industry owes a lot of its improvements to early Open Standards, without many people realising it:
- The standard gauge railway, still used around the World today, has been based around the same width of rail tracks adopted by George Stephenson around 1830
- The 3-point car seat belt was invented by Nils Bohlin at Volvo (just over 50 years ago now). But the patent was given away to the rest of the automotive industry for free, as it was recognised that this innovation has the potential to save so many lives… and has done since.
Now, we at the Open Transport initiative are not saying that our work on transport account interchangeability is life saving. But the adoption of the Open Standard for customer account data could save time & effort and remove some vendor lock-in.