Standardizing border data

Government Electronics and Information Technology Association

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Members of a technology industry group announced plans to develop a new data exchange standard that would enable border and transportation agents to access and share threat-related information.

The Government Electronics and Information Technology Association (GEIA) is developing the Border and Transportation (BTS) Security Data Exchange standard in collaboration with the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate.

The standard, which will conform to DHS' enterprise architecture, will include a data element dictionary, an Extensible Markup Language-based reference schema and examples of information exchange packages. The core development team of Science Applications International Corp., ManTech International and MLR Associates will work with the DHS Metadata Center of Excellence and related information-sharing initiatives.

Chris Denham, GEIA's vice president of standards and technology, said officials are getting the user community directly involved in identifying terms for transactions and correspondence.

"What we found is that in most cases where we have data modelers doing these things kinds of things, they define terms differently than user community would expect to see them," he said, adding that getting the users directly involved in the development effort makes the end product a lot more acceptable.

"In this particular area, the problem is real in the sense that there are so many disparate databases, and information flow across those are practically nonexistent [unless] they find a common way to get the data from one point to the other," Denham said.

The group is planning to hold a workshop Jan. 24, 2005, in Destin, Fla., to review the standard's first draft as well as develop a blueprint for a Web Services-based data exchange implementation that is expected to be demonstrated next fall. Similar workshops will be held next April and June and at the group's annual September conference.

Participation in the working group is open to all interested DHS information-sharing stakeholders. For more information, contact Denham at


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