Counterterror data sharing will rely on XML

Counterterror data sharing will rely on XML

The Homeland Security Department will tweak the new Data Reference Model to create a data model for the exchange of counterterrorism data.

Under Executive Order 13356, DHS data architect Michael Daconta is leading a revision of the Federal Enterprise Architecture's 30-page DRM to share counterterrorism data while preserving individual privacy.

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

He said he is looking seriously at the way the Global Justice XML data model would handle metadata about agencies' watch lists. The model can separate 'external versus internal metadata,' he said, much like a book's outside cover tells the title and author, whereas the inside pages contain the details of plot and characters.

'XML is neutral' on concepts such as 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 exchange federated queries across agencies, he said. Queries must be able to reach into unstructured documents, such as Adobe Portable Document Format files, as well as semistructured ones such as collections of e-mail messages.

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

He envisions a terrorism DRM with three axes: contexts of the subject, the service desired and its security; rules for information access and exchange; and descriptions of data elements and resources.

Among the technologies he is considering are the Web ontology language, known as OWL, and ebXML, the XML extension for electronic business. The XML polling and distribution technology known as 'really simple syndication' could provide access for queries, he said.

While the terror DRM development is under way, he said, agencies involved in exchanging terrorist information can get a head start by following three best practices:

  • Make a formal taxonomy, or classification, of the data they have'not just a hierarchy

  • Adopt reusable type libraries

  • Form core communities of interest internally and externally.


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