eXtensible Markup Language (XML) Promotes Interoperability

eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is a standard programming language for describing how information is structured or tagged so that it can be easily exchanged or shared among disparate applications and systems. The programming benefits of XML are that the text elements are identified on the basis of their context in a document. This, coupled with the fact that XML employs a uniform structure – even when the XML is generated by different information systems – makes it useful to seamlessly move information from system to system. XML is the data transmission standard most often used in service-oriented architecture (SOA) and for that reason, URL believes XML is the most efficient and cost-effective way to share and reuse information across the justice enterprise, without having to alter legacy systems or business processes.

Which XML standards does URL employ?

The answer:

For our justice and public safety clients, URL exclusively conforms to the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), which is an XML communication standard that is used by the justice and public safety communities, as well as emergency management, intelligence, and homeland security agencies. NIEM is based on the data exchange standards successfully implemented by the Department of Justice’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global) and extends the Global Justice XML Data Model (Global JXDM).

In NIEM, data components are comprised of frequently used and shared information, standards, and vocabulary that are collected about people, places, material things, and events. For example, two agencies may each gather information about the same person, but classify them in a different manner. So, in order for separate agencies to effectively share information about the same person, there must be a common or universal understanding of the terminology each agency uses, including common attributes that describes that person and the details and events associated with that person.

By employing NIEM into your justice integration project, URL will create XML schemas for each data exchange by gathering requirements and developing XML-based mappings and schema. The group of artifacts that are developed in the process of documenting information is commonly called Service Specification Packages (SSPs) and include Information Exchange Package Document (IEPDs). SSPs and IEPDs are important first steps in realizing cross-agency information exchange; by using them you will gain timely access to quality information that will promote interoperability, enable better decision making, and improve communications and collaboration efforts with partnering agencies.

What XML-based security standards does URL employ?

When implementing a justice information exchange project between two or more agencies, defining and enforcing user’s access to specific applications, information, and systems becomes an important factor in maintaining security and managing access rights. That is why URL utilizes two XML-based open standards – Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and eXtensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML). These two security standards not only define how the user’s identity and access information is exchanged, but also define rules in how the information can be used.

  • SAML is a framework for exchanging security information between agencies that is based on statements (identity, attributes, and entitlements) about the user. Essentially, SAML allows a user to access multiple systems with a single sign-on by authenticating a user’s identity and granting them specific authorization and entitlement based on their identity.
  • XACML is a vocabulary for stating the rules needed to define an agency’s security policies and how the system should formulate access-control decisions. In essence, XACML protects information from unauthorized usage by specifying who can do what and when with the information, including read, write, copy, and delete.