Intelligence and military look to XML to share data

The Defense Department and the government's intelligence agencies are turning to Extensible Markup Language tags, registries and schemas as a way to share data across disparate systems.

The main focus is the Intelligence Community System for Information Sharing, a backbone network shared by intelligence agencies.

'We are not inventing a new system but taking what is there and building on it,' said John Brantley, director of the Intelink Management Office, at the recent Secure E-Biz conference in Arlington, Va.

Intelligence community officials have said they consider metadata tags critical to the process of rights management, so that agencies can control how subsequent users access information as well as copy and distribute it. The government's 14 intelligence agencies have launched a Metadata Working Group to coordinate their efforts.

A date with metadata

The use of metadata is a core principle for the establishing workable search engines for scanning homeland security information, Brantley said. The CIA and other agencies are working on metadata standards and guidelines.

The Defense Information Systems Agency, meanwhile, has created an extensive XML registry, said Alesia Jones-Harewood, a DISA program manager.

Jones-Harewood cautioned that in the metadata field 'the approach of 'build a standard and they will come' does not work. Implementation will vary across systems and even within communities.'

DISA's data emporium includes a mature XML registry that has more than 16,000 data elements and 139 XML schema, she said. Data elements are individual items of data content, and schema describe how tags and elements can be combined.

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