Standardizing terror data

Government officials crafting proposals for cross-agency counterterrorism information sharing plan to assign stewardship over a core set of Extensible Markup Language standards.

Members of the Information Systems Council will identify XML standards and people responsible for them, said Bill Dawson, intelligence community deputy chief information officer at the CIA.

Dawson spoke Nov. 1 at a breakfast briefing of the Bethesda chapter of AFCEA International. Also speaking was Richard Russell, director of information-sharing collaboration at the Homeland Security Department.

Metadata standards enabling the widest possible dissemination of intelligence information are required under Section 3 of Executive Order 13356, which President Bush signed Aug. 27.

The order created the council, whose members must hand over their plans for implementing the full executive order to Office of Management and Budget officials Nov. 29, Russell said.

"We're trying to set up the process for defining who's in charge," Dawson said.

One easy choice would be to adopt the Justice Department Global Justice XML Data Model as the law enforcement metadata standard, Dawson said. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency will likely assume stewardship over geospatial metadata standards, he added.

Final plans are due to the president by Christmas Eve, Dawson said. It will take most of December to identify cross-government staffing, Russell said.

No new funds are being added to implement the executive order, he said.

"Between all the organizations working together, we will have to figure out what are those things that need to be allow to sunset so that we can engage in these other activities," Russell said.

Already, he said, four previously incompatible law enforcement systems are mutually accessible today. On Sept. 20, officials connected the FBI's Law Enforcement Online network, the Justice Department's Regional Information Sharing System, the Homeland Security Network and a criminal intelligence network in California.

"We are proving that there is not a technological barrier to do this," Russell said.

He envisions the various law enforcement networks becoming analogous to the domain extension of e-mail messages. "It's just a tag on your e-mail stream," he said. "It's not a barrier to communication; it's a way of identifying the system that you're on."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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