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Last modified: April 13, 2009
XML Daily Newslink. Monday, 13 April 2009

A Cover Pages Publication
Provided by OASIS and Sponsor Members
Edited by Robin Cover

This issue of XML Daily Newslink is sponsored by:
Microsoft Corporation

Data Reuse Not Possible Without Ontological Work, Group Asserts
Joab Jackson, Government Computer News

"Data models are insufficient to enable widespread system interoperability, and organizations need to develop an ontology to explain how different data elements interact. Only when this context is rendered in a computational form can external systems make sense of a data model, asserted Steve Ray, chairman of the Ontology Summit held last week at the headquarters of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. The working group has released details of a number of projects that could show how ontologies could help facilitate better interoperability. The group hopes funding organizations, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will inspect and possibly provide additional funding to these projects. Members from the NSF, NIST, the Defense Department and other agencies participate in the summit, as do representatives from academia and European Union government agencies. At this point the group is not advocating developing actual standards for developing and maintaining ontologies. Rather, it wants standards bodies, such as the World Wide Web Consortium and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, to work ontological aspects into their own frameworks. The topic of data sharing is certainly a timely one, as the Obama administration has made it a priority for agencies to open their databases for wider use... Ray admits that the study of ontologies is quite abstract, and the Ontology Summit can include members from a wide variety of decidedly non-computer-oriented academic disciplines, such as linguistics and philosophy. So, for this year's meeting, the group wanted to offer a number of practical examples of how ontologies could be used within large IT systems. At the meeting, representatives from a number of different fields presented projects that could also show the benefit from ontologies, including financial services, manufacturing, emergency response, geospatial and the oil and gas industries..." From the Summit Resolution and Endorsement Statement: "The goal of this Ontology Summit 2009 is to articulate the power of synergizing the ontology and standards communities in the form of a communique in which a number of challenges are laid out. The joint communities of ontologists and standards developers represented at this year's summit hereby endorse the following list of concrete, near-term projects: A harmonized ontology of units and dimensions; Ontologizing product structure and properties; Re-engineering Open Application Group specifications with UN/CEFACT CCTS; Geospatial Catalog Mediation; Financial industry semantics—developments and potential applications; Ontology Across Building, Emergency, and Energy Standards—with Open Floor Plan Display demonstration; I-Ring (Realtime Interoperability Network Grid) for Process Industry standards; Connecting ISO/IEC 11179 to data sets; Providing data sets and associated metadata for public use..."

See also: the the Ontology Summit 2009 Resolution

Security Best Practices Efforts and Documents
Chris Lonvick and David Spak (eds), IETF Internet Draft

Members of the the IETF Operational Security Capabilities for IP Network Infrastructure (OPSEC) Working Group have published a revised version of "Security Best Practices Efforts and Documents." This document provides a snapshot of the current efforts to define or apply security requirements in various Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs). The IETF OPSEC WG was chartered to document best current practices with regard to network security. In particular, the members endeavor to clarify the rationale supporting current operational practice, address gaps in currently understood best practices for forwarding, control plane, and management plane security and make clear the liabilities inherent in security practices where they exist. The scope of the OPSEC WG is intended to include the protection and secure operation of the forwarding, control, and management planes. From the Internet Draft 'Introduction': "The Internet is being recognized as a critical infrastructure similar in nature to the power grid and a potable water supply. Just like those infrastructures, means are needed to provide resiliency and adaptability to the Internet so that it remains consistently available to the public throughout the world even during times of duress or attack. For this reason, many SDOs are developing standards with hopes of retaining an acceptable level, or even improving this availability, to its users. These SDO efforts usually define themselves as "security" efforts. It is the opinion of the authors that there are many different definitions of the term "security" and it may be applied in many diverse ways. As such, we offer no assurance that the term is applied consistently throughout this document. Many of these SDOs have diverse charters and goals and will take entirely different directions in their efforts to provide standards. However, even with that, there will be overlaps in their produced works. If there are overlaps then there is a potential for conflicts and confusion. This may result in: (1) Vendors of networking equipment being unsure of which standard to follow. (2) Purchasers of networking equipment being unsure of which standard will best apply to the needs of their business or ogranization. (3) Network Administrators and Operators being unsure of which standard to follow to attain the best security for their network. For these reasons, the authors wish to encourage all SDOs who have an interest in producing or in consuming standards relating to good security practices to be consistent in their approach and their recommendations. In many cases, the authors are aware that the SDOs are making good efforts along these lines. However, the authors do not participate in all SDO efforts and cannot know everything that is happening. The OpSec Working Group met at the 61st IETF and agreed that this document could be a useful reference in producing the documents described in the Working Group Charter. The authors have agreed to keep this document current and request that those who read it will submit corrections or comments. Comments on this document may be addressed to the OpSec Working Group or directly to the authors..."

See also: the IETF Operational Security Capabilities for IP Network Infrastructure (OPSEC) Working Group

NIST Teams With Research Institute to Develop Smart Grid Standards
William Jackson, Government Computer News

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded a $1.3 million contract to an independent research group to help develop an interim roadmap of standards for a nationwide intelligent electric grid. The contract with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) of Palo Alto, Calif., is part of an aggressive NIST effort to identify or create interoperability and security standards for the new Smart Grid... The interim roadmap is expected by early summer, and NIST has said it soon will announce a three-phase plan for producing proposed standards for approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by the end of the year... EPRI is an independent nonprofit conducting research and development on the generation, delivery and use of electricity. Its members produce and deliver more than 90 percent of the nation's electricity... The Smart Grid would use intelligent networking and automation to better control the flow and delivery of electricity to consumers. It is 'a fully automated power-delivery network that monitors and controls every customer and node, ensuring a two-way flow of electricity and information between the power plant and the appliance, and all points in between,' the Energy Department said in its document 'National Vision for Electricity's Next 100 Years'. Distributed intelligence, coupled with broadband communications and automated control systems, enables real- time market transactions and seamless interfaces among people, buildings, industrial plants, generation facilities, and the electric network'... Toward this end, NIST in March 2009 established a full-time position to lead Smart Grid activities, headed by Arnold. Under the contract, EPRI will inventory existing standards, identify gaps and list priorities for either reconciling differences among current standards or developing new ones. EPRI also will be developing consensus among the many stakeholders in the program, including the utility industry, independent system operators, equipment manufacturers, standards development organizations, state regulators and representatives of consumers' groups.

See also: the EPRI announcement

Mobile Widgets and Social Web: W3C's WWW 2009 "One Camp A Day" Track
Staff, W3C Announcement

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) invites the WWW 2009 conference participants as well as the local Spanish developer community to participate in the new W3C track format. For the first time, on April 23 and 24, 2009, W3C will organize two camps for developers to discuss current hot topics in Web development and write code. The Mobile Widgets camp and the Social Web camp will foster discussion and promote results in the form of working mobile widgets and semantic/social Web tools, respectively. W3C invites discussion topic suggestions via the track wikis, and more discussion on a twitter feed (#w3ctrack). A special discounted registration fee to attend the W3C track is available... In addition to the W3C Track, Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the Web, will give a keynote titled "Twenty Years: Looking Forward, Looking Back" on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, followed by a press conference. All events will take place at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos Campo de las Naciones, in Madrid, Spain.

See also: the W3C press release

Apache PyLucene Version 2.4.1
Tetsuya Kitahata, Apache Foundation Announcement

Members of the Apache PyLucene development team have announced the release of PyLucene Version 2.4.1, with numerous bug fixes and improvements. "Apache PyLucene is a high-performance, full-featured text search engine library and is a Python extension for accessing Java Lucene. Its goal is to allow you to use Lucene's text indexing and searching capabilities from Python. It is API compatible with the latest version of Java Lucene. Apache Lucene is a high-performance, full-featured text search engine library written entirely in Java. It is a technology suitable for nearly any application that requires full-text search, especially cross-platform. PyLucene is not a Lucene port but a Python wrapper around Java Lucene. PyLucene embeds a Java VM with Lucene into a Python process. The PyLucene Python extension, a Python module called lucene, is machine-generated by JCC. PyLucene is built with JCC, a C++ code generator that makes it possible to call into Java classes from Python via Java's Native Invocation Interface (JNI). Sources for JCC are included with the PyLucene sources..."

See also: the Apache PyLucene project page

NIST Creates YouTube Channel
K.C. Jones, InformationWeek

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has turned to YouTube to help teach citizens about its programs. NIST announced last week that it has created its own channel on the video social networking site. The creation of the channel is just one of many steps NIST will take to reach out to people on the Web. 'This official YouTube channel is the first of several planned NIST Web sites hosted by the private sector,' Gail Porter, director of NIST's public and business affairs office, said in a statement. 'The effort is part of a broader, government-wide effort to encourage openness and transparency and to 'go to where the people are.' The move is part of a larger U.S. government plan to make more information available to the public. The U.S. Department of Commerce negotiated a contract with Google so its agencies can create YouTube channels. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau are also participating. The federal government is negotiating similar contracts with other social media sites, according to the Commerce Department. Viewers can visit NIST's YouTube channel and share video with friends, comment on the material and post links on their own Web pages. The channel , which has been active for about two months, had 57 subscribers and 4,000 views by Tuesday. Subscribers receive notices each time new videos have been uploaded. The channel has 12 videos that explain what NIST is and what its researchers do..."

See also: the NIST YouTube launch document

The Need for Real-time Data Access
Manny Mandrusiak,

"As a society we live in an information rich age. The need for improved access to real-time data is stronger than ever before. Looking at the above situation from a more industrial perspective, building control systems need the ability to securely pass streams of data through a series of connected control systems and finally to the enterprise level. Decision makers at all levels need the ability to be able to access data from multiple control systems in geographically dispersed locations... OPC [OLE for Process Control] is able to provide open access to a wealth of propriety protocols such as BACnet, LON, Modbus etc. Security would then be a natural question. No company can afford insecure communications and be left vulnerable to those with malicious intent. Under the hood, OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is designed to maximize the power of XML to provide robust communication, and secure data exchange, through a services model. This enables OPC UA to be easily integrated into existing building systems architectures in an extremely scalable way. Imagine having all the functionality that the current OPC specifications provide, but with the ability to implement a base set of services where thngs like subscripting and queries are easily and securely completed. OPC UA is completely backward compatible with current OPC products, so end-users and integrators do not have to worry about ripping out existing architectures. This backward compatibility enables existing users of OPC products to remain customers of vendors that they are used to dealing with. Where some of its strength lies is that it solves the need for mapping and exchanging real-time information in an object- oriented way. Being object-orientated, OPC UA provides re-usability of common asset and therefore a common management method for supporting extremely complex data models. These characteristics provide OPC UA with the ability to be interoperable with non-windows platforms. The ability to have complete freedom when building system architectures is something that end-users have wanted for years..."

See also: the OPC Foundation website


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