Justice, DHS launch draft data-sharing model

The Homeland Security and Justice departments today took the wraps off a test version of their model for sharing information about natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other crises.

The model comprises an Extensible Markup Language-based schemata that agencies could use to code their data in a standard format for more efficient communication, database searches and coordination. The departments first announced their plans to cooperate on the NIEM project in March 2005.

The 'beta' or test version of the National Information Exchange Model is designed to help federal agencies cooperate with other government organizations during disasters, as well as support the agencies' day-to-day work, the departments said.

The departments said they had released NIEM 1.0 on June 30. The model integrates various systems standards to promote electronic exchange of information, partly by using standards such as the Global Justice XML Model and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model.

Justice and DHS said they plan to roll out a production version of NIEM in October.

Justice CIO Vance Hitch called NIEM 'a significant step in promoting improved information sharing across agencies and other boundaries.' He noted that the new model would mesh with existing Justice projects such as the FBI's Sentinel investigative case-management system and Justice's recently launched Litigation Case Management System project. DHS deputy CIO Charles Armstrong said release of NIEM is a major milestone in federal data-sharing plans.

The NIEM covers 'domains' that include:
  • Justice
  • Intelligence
  • Immigration
  • Emergency management
  • International trade
  • Infrastructure protection, and
  • Information Assurance, according to the announcement.

The two departments said that they expect NIEM to be expanded to include domains such as health care and transportation. The agencies plan to promote NIEM by sponsoring pilots to help evaluate domain interaction, support tools, training and technical assistance.

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