Law enforcement groups try to get standardized on XML to share data

Law enforcement groups try to get standardized on XML to share data

Finding funds and support could mean up to three years' wait for a nationwide standard

The Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs has proposed using the Extensible Markup Language to help law enforcement agencies and courts at the federal, state and local levels share data.

XML lets user communities define their own document markup tags; a standarized set of markups would let the various groups access each others' documents.

About 30 agencies, including public safety organizations, Interpol, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association, are taking part in the Global Justice Information Network, program manager Pat McCreary told the XML Working Group at a September meeting in Washington.

An XML group within GJIN has been meeting since June to designate consistent names for data elements, said Robert Greeves, an OJP senior policy analyst.

The group includes representatives from the Joint Task Force Rap Sheet Standardization Project, LegalXML Court Filing Standard Initiative and Regional Information Sharing Systems Project. The three bodies had already started their own efforts to tailor XML tags and schemas.

The rap sheet and RISS groups had defined a tag called subjectName that was similar to the court filing initiative's personName tag, Greeves said. The GJIN group standardized on a personName tag that will identify the same kind of data in all documents adhering to the network's XML standard.

The working group has drafted a dictionary of 128 standardized data elements and sample schemas. Greeves cautioned, however, that it might take two or three years to get the funding and widespread support for a nationwide implementation of the standard.

New motivation

The first step is to get representatives from the criminal justice, law enforcement and intelligence camps to feel comfortable working together.

'The courts basically don't trust law enforcement,' Greeves said.

Those at the meeting suggested inviting the Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to participate, as well as the Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the food stamp program.

Since Sept. 11, the participating justice agencies 'have a whole new set of motivations,' said Owen Ambur, a systems analyst with the Fish and Wildlife Service and an organizer of the XML Working Group.

The CIO Council organized the XML Working Group last year. More information appears at xml.gov.

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