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About NIEM

NIEMOpen is a common vocabulary that enables efficient information exchange across diverse public and private organizations.

NIEM Enables a Common Understanding

Three organizations identify the need to exchange information. Their information, though similar, is defined differently. Organization A uses Last name, Sex, and Nationality. Organization B uses Surname, Sex, and Nationality. Organization C uses Family Name, Gender and Origin of Birth.  In this example, each organizations has a concept of a person’s last name. One refers to it as “last name” while another refers to it as “surname”, and the other "family name"—the same concept, but different defining terms. Using NIEM, the organizations are able to come together to agree on a common vocabulary. In this example, they agree to use the NIEM data model elements for Person Type: Person Surname, Person Sex and Person Nationality.  When additional organizations need to be added to the information exchange, the Person Surname, Person Sex and Person Nationality terms can be reused, saving time and money.

If I say "vessel" and you say "boat", and he says "ship" and she says "conveyance", we may mean the same thing, but we have no way to tell our computer systems to treat the words as having the same meaning. Until we do, we'll all have separate facts about the same world—pieces of the big puzzle—but no common understanding or way to connect them.

This is the idea behind NIEM. It lets your system and my system speak—even if they've never spoken before—by ensuring that information carries the same consistent meaning across various communities.

Rather than starting from scratch, NIEM can save organizations time and money by providing consistent, reusable, and repeatable data terms, definitions, and processes.

Learn about the value of NIEM and what it can do for your organization.

Having trouble seeing the video below? View our Videos page.

What is NIEM?

NIEM is a reference model

Picture noting the communities that have content in the NIEM model: Justice, Maritime, MilOps, Screening, Surface Transportation, Biometrics, CBRN, Agriculture, Emergency Management, Human Services, Immigration, Infastructure Protection, Intelligence, International Trade. Participation in the NIEM community spans federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and international.

Elements are to a reference model as words are to a dictionary. Think of NIEM as a dictionary of agreed-upon terms, definitions, relationships, and formats that are independent of how information is stored in individual systems. The NIEM model includes community-specific elements, as well as core elements that are commonly agreed to by the communities who use NIEM. For example, common elements in the NIEM core include “person,” “location,” “item,” “organization,” and “activity.”

For a more detailed overview of the model, visit the TechHub.

NIEM is a foundation to build information exchanges

NIEM provides rules and methodologies around the use of the model as well as a standardized Information Exchange Development Lifecycle that can be reused by everyone. NIEM also includes governance, training, tools, technical assistance, and an engaged community to support users and organizations in adopting NIEM.

NIEM is built by the community, for the community

The NIEM community’s shared commitment to interoperability drives the Program forward. NIEM’s active community of users contribute to model content, provide technical assistance and guidance, and offer assets that can be reused to make the development of exchanges faster.

The NIEM community includes members from federal, state, local, tribal, private, and international organizations. Learn more about the diverse NIEM community.

NIEM in Action

For over 20 years, NIEM has facilitated information exchanges across a variety of mission spaces and subject areas. What began as a solution for the law enforcement and homeland security communities has since evolved into a wide range of subject matters and areas. For instance, this NEICE video highlights the role NIEM plays every day in child welfare and foster care. Learn more about NIEM's history here.

To learn more about how NIEM has evolved and the positive impact the Program makes on communities every day, visit the Success Stories page.

Having trouble seeing the video below? View our Videos page.

Have questions or comments about NIEM? Connect with us!