Homeland Security to inject XML into DRM to assist in data sharing

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To share is human

The Homeland Security Department's Michael Daconta is leading a revision of the 30-page Data Reference Model, released in October, to help homeland defenders exchange data securely while preserving individuals' privacy.

The DRM distinguishes data objects from their properties and representations, but Daconta said that is not enough. He said the DRM's way of describing information need further elaboration. To facilitate sharing of counterterror information, he said, the model must consistently include more details and cover unstructured and semistructured data.

'I'm amazed that Extensible Markup Language has become so important' to the data-sharing effort, Daconta said last month at a meeting of the Association for Information and Image Management's National Capital Chapter in Arlington, Va.

Neutral party

For sharing watch-list information, for example, Daconta said he is looking at how the Global Justice XML data model would deal with metadata about objects. Global JXDM can separate external and internal metadata about a data object.

'XML is neutral' on subjects such as the various watch lists' heterogeneous collections, Daconta said, but it can bridge documents and data because its primary job is information exchange.

'We need to extend and enhance the DRM for a terrorism DRM' to be able to exchange federated queries across agencies, he said.

Federated queries must be able to reach into different agencies' collections of unstructured documents, such as Adobe Portable Document Format files, as well as semistructured documents, such as collections of e-mail messages.

The use of federated queries will require some kind of standard governmentwide identifier for persons of interest, as well as a central registry for the metadata, Daconta said.

Among the technologies he is considering are the Web ontology language; ebXML, the XML extension for electronic business; and the XML polling and distribution technology known as really simple syndication.

'EbXML could be used to register a Web service,' he said, and the metadata describing the service could be formatted in Web services description language (WSDL).

'The DRM context spans whole domains' and eventually could lead to governmentwide integration of data handling, Daconta said.

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