The Cover PagesThe OASIS Cover Pages: The Online Resource for Markup Language Technologies
Advanced Search
Site Map
CP RSS Channel
Contact Us
Sponsoring CP
About Our Sponsors

Cover Stories
Articles & Papers
Press Releases

XML Query

XML Applications
General Apps
Government Apps
Academic Apps

Technology and Society
Tech Topics
Related Standards
Created: October 14, 2005.
News: Cover StoriesPrevious News ItemNext News Item

First Release of the U.S. National Information Exchange Model (NIEM).


On October 7, 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and their associated domains announced the first release of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Version 0.1. NIEM "establishes a single standard XML foundation for exchanging information between DHS, DOJ, and supporting domains, such as Justice, Emergency Management, and Intelligence."

NIEM is a U.S. interagency initiative created to "provide the foundation and building blocks for national-level interoperable information sharing and data exchange. The NIEM project was formally announced on February 28, 2005, constituted as a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), with outreach to other departments and agencies. NIEM establishes a single standard XML foundation for exchanging information between DHS, DOJ, and supporting domains such as Justice, Emergency Management, and Intelligence."

The NIEM 0.1 release contains a collection of fifty-four (54) XML schemas and a Component Mapping Template for use by reviewers. Based in part upon the Global Justice XML Data Model (Global JXDM), NIEM 0.1 defines 250 types, of which 54 are Universal, 107 are Common, and 89 are Domain Specific. It also defines 2213 Properties, of which 273 are classified as Universal, 943 are Common, and 997 are Domain Specific.

The NIEM Core collection of namespace includes a Universal namespace that holds components and properties utilized across all domains, and a Common namespace for components and properties that could be utilized by a minimum of two domains. The NIEM model also includes a Structure namespace for components and properties that identify functional relationships between information components.

NIEM assigns a separate namespace for each of the current domains (justice, emergency-management, intelligence) within the Domain-Specific section. "Each of these Domain-Specific namespaces capture components and elements that are utilized only within that single domain. As more domains participate in the use of the NIEM, more Domain-Specific namespaces will be added. As more domains identify sharable components, components will migrate up to the Common namespace, and as domains identify components as being utilized by all, the components will move into the Universal namespace. Each Domain-Specific namespace is also capable of inheriting the component properties from the Common and Universal namespaces."

Naming conventions for XML components in the Schemas follow the major published Naming and Design (NDR) specifications: use of UpperCamelCase for XML types and elements, but lowerCamelCase for attribute names.

The NIEM Project Management Office (PMO) was established by DHS and DOJ and directed to establish the standard, beginning with analysis and extensive research to identify the core components that would make up NIEM. "Led by Michael Daconta, Metadata Program Manager, DHS, and James Feagans, NIEM Program Manager, DOJ, the NIEM PMO has worked hand in hand with the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and DOJ's Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative's (Global) Justice Extensible Markup Language (XML) Structure Task Force (Global XSTF). The result of these efforts is NIEM Verison 0.1."

The base technology for the NIEM is the Global JXDM, which has robust framework but is "a large, complex, monolithic schema with no reusable modular core components; it is a limited exchange model with no reusable exchange packages. Global JXDM consists of a well-defined and organized vocabulary of 2,754 reusable components out of which there are 400 Complex Types, 150 Simple Types, and 2,209 Properties that facilitate the exchange and reuse of information from multiple sources and multiple applications."

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) was designed to leverage the benefits of Global JXDM by facilitating growth of the data model through harmonization of new data components. While maintaining compatibility with Global JXDM, NIEM facilitates the discovery of reusable data components and assembly of exchange packages.

The initial NIEM Version 0.1 release is intended to "introduce NIEM to the broad NIEM stakeholder community within government and industry and to provide the NIEM model and schemas as a base for creating exchange messages for the initial pilot projects that will validate and augment the standard. The review process will allow information technology and standards experts and users to provide feedback on the standard, and to begin identification of additional Universal, Common, and Domain-Specific components that could be added to future versions of the standard."

Release notes for NIEM Version 0.1 make it emphatically clear that the initial model with its supporting schemas and documentation are "not intended to be used as a foundation for establishing production system exchange messaging or as the final rules governing conformance. The NIEM 1.0, scheduled for release by June 1, 2006, will be the official version for widespread production system use and conformity standards."

By the end of 2005, according to the NIEM Project Management Office (PMO), "a number of major deliverables and tasks will be completed regarding the governance and use of the NIEM standard, including (1) release of NIEM 0.2, based on the initial analysis and feedback of NIEM 0.1 by NIEM stakeholders, including pilots and their domains; (2) release of the initial Naming and Design Rules (NDR) specification; (3) release of the initial Concept of Operations (CONOPS) document; (4) reconstitution of the PMO to meet the needs of the process and vetting of the standard; (5) release of the NIEM Subschema Generator Tool, Code Configuration Tool, and Wantlist Registration Tool."

A news story from Government Computer News quotes Michael Daconta (metadata program manager for the Homeland Security Department) as encouraging agencies to have their IT staff examine this draft to see if they "can build a message from these specifications." The model is designed for information exchange, but Daconta "recommended that even if an agency is developing a new internal schema, it should look into using as many of the elements as possible, because the agency may not know whether it will need to share that information in the future."

About National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)

NIEM Mission: "To assist in developing a unified strategy, partnerships, and technical implementations for national information sharing — laying the foundation for local, state, tribal, and federal interoperability by joining together communities of interest. That foundation consists of three parts: core data components, reusable XML exchange packages, and business-process models for information sharing. The business process drives the creation of information exchange packages that are populated by reusable components."

Background: "DOJ created the Global JXDM by gathering approximately 16,000 data elements from 35 data dictionaries comprised of DOJ agencies as well as various local and state government sources. The developers removed the redundancies and duplications and resolved semantic differences. Currently, Global JXDM consists of a well-defined and organized vocabulary of 2,754 reusable components out of which there are 400 Complex Types, 150 Simple Types, and 2,209 Properties that facilitate the exchange and reuse of information from multiple sources and multiple applications. The Global JXDM has effective governance mechanism and widespread recognition and is rich, flexible, extensible, and used by local and state agencies."

NIEM Concept: "The NIEM concept embodies next generation enterprise data management technologies at the conceptual and implementation levels. Key aspects of this concept include modularity aligned with common and stakeholder-specific information needs, stakeholder consensus, and the collaborative development, sustainment, and reuse of sets of core data types. 'Universal core data types' have applicability across all information domains. 'Core data types' have applicability across two or more but not all information domains. Individual domains can reuse and extend these core data types to meet domain-specific needs."

NIEM Goal and Objectives: The goal of the NIEM is to prevent fragmentation and semantic noninteroperability in Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards within and across agencies through a proactive collaborative initiative to develop and implement common XML information sharing standards that meet critical homeland security data exchange needs. The NIEM has the following objectives:

  • Develop a unified strategy within the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) for an XML-based information sharing capability.
  • Develop an initial implementation of the NIEM that satisfies Executive Order (EO) 13356 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-11.
  • Develop an exchange layer for the XML profile implementation of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model (FEA DRM).
  • Develop an XML profile of NIEM that implements the FEA DRM.
  • Provide technical assistance and training to local, state, tribal, and federal organizations seeking to implement revisions to the Global JXDM and support the new national standards emerging from joint efforts under this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
  • Develop and demonstrate an application of the NIEM for the Bureau of Border and Transportation Security (BTS) operational domain involving customs and border patrol agent data exchange as the first pilot.
  • Build out a framework for many pilot use cases under the umbrella of the NIEM.

NIEM Development Strategy: The NIEM is a collaborative development initiative with the initial development principally supported by DHS and DOJ. The NIEM development will leverage the DOJ Global JXDM as the principal baseline data model. The pilot project will develop the NIEM as a rebranded version of the Global JXDM, extending its scope and aligning its structure and associated processes to include the concept of core data types. NIEM is an ambitious undertaking that faces numerous technical and logistical challenges and associated risks. The development strategy will mitigate these risks by leveraging the proven technologies and processes of the Global JXDM; revising and extending the Global JXDM architecture, components, and processes for the NIEM based on an extensive Global JXDM knowledge base of successful applications and lessons learned; applying industry best practices; and scoping the initial NIEM release to a small high priority set of core components..."

National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Component Mapping

An instruction document for use of the Component Mapping Template guides reviewers in providing feedback on NIEM. Excerpts:

"NIEM Component Mapping is the process of identifying and characterizing similarities and differences between the NIEM and another data model. The data model can be in the form of an Extensible Markup Language (XML) vocabulary (data element dictionary); XML reference schema; or a document, form, or information exchange package (IEP) template or schema. A data model can also be an entity-relationship diagram (ERD), unified modeling language (UML), data description language (DDL), or data element dictionary for a database being accessed, updated, and/or queried through NIEM-compliant IEPs.

The current NIEM baseline is Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global) Justice XML Data Model (Global JXDM), Version 3.0.2. Although developed to support the law enforcement and justice domains, the Global JXDM has substantial applicability to other domains, e.g., homeland security or transportation. However, there are gaps between the Global JXDM and data exchange requirements in these other domains, and it is essential to identify, characterize, and fill these gaps. The NIEM Component Mapping process identifies and provides a basis of reconciling these gaps.

The Global JXDM is available in the form of an XML reference schema and a Microsoft Excel Workbook that lists the Global JXDM classes and subclasses, as well as the Global JXDM elements and attributes. The Excel Workbook is the recommended Global JXDM source document for the component mapping. The NIEM tools will be available soon on Until NEIM tools become available, it is recommended that the Global Justice XML Data Model Viewer should be used..."

A standard NIEM Component Mapping template has been developed to facilitate component mapping. The template that can be downloaded from the Web site provides a convenient format for capturing the results of the mapping process. The template can be used as is (preferred) or modified to meet specific mapping needs. Although the use of the template is recommended, the NIEM Component Mapping team will gladly accept component mappings in any format..."

The NIEM component mapping process involves identifying and characterizing gaps at the entity (class), element (database attribute), and value (literal) levels. Component mapping categorizes data-source components at each level as matching (equivalent), partially matching, or not matching a component or components within the Global JXDM. Matching components include those where the component names may differ, but the components themselves are semantically and structurally equivalent (i.e., a one-toone mapping between the Global JXDM and the data source component). Partial matches can arise when there are similarities but also some differences between components. These differences can include semantic and/or structural mismatches; naming collisions; and mismatches at the value set, datatype, and/or lexical levels. Data source components with no matching Global JXDM components comprise a set of additional entities and element types that are candidates for inclusion into the NIEM.

The NIEM component mapping process includes providing a recommended action for reconciling a gap. Depending on the nature of the gap, the action may include adding a new or subordinate type, adding an element, extending a value set, modifying a datatype or lexical representation, renaming components, or revising a definition..."

Hosted By
OASIS - Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards

Sponsored By

IBM Corporation
ISIS Papyrus
Microsoft Corporation
Oracle Corporation


XML Daily Newslink
Receive daily news updates from Managing Editor, Robin Cover.

 Newsletter Subscription
 Newsletter Archives
Bottom Globe Image

Document URI:  —  Legal stuff
Robin Cover, Editor: