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NIEM Marks Fifteenth Anniversary With NIEM 5.0 Major Release

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is marking its fifteenth-year anniversary with the release of NIEM 5.0.  This major release underscores NIEM’s value and relevance as a force multiplier in enabling secure, scalable enterprise-level data interoperability across diverse, complex systems and organizations. As importantly, 5.0 establishes the framework for the NIEM metamodel currently in development.

“NIEM 5.0 represents three years of extensive NIEM user-community input, development, and harmonization efforts to deliver information exchange solutions addressing our users’ needs,” said Katherine Escobar, Managing Director, NIEM Management Office. She continued, “With NIEM’s community-powered, open source approach, users directly contribute both content and technical expertise, propelling NIEM’s growth forward with timely solutions to challenging interoperability problems.” 

NIEM 5.0 Highlights

(Note: A comprehensive list of NIEM 5.0 content changes appears at the conclusion of this article)

  • Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) metadata;
  • Refined Geography Markup Language (GML) profile;
  • Major updates to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center National Data Exchange (NDEx), and Uniform Crime Reporting code tables;
  • Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PH-EOC) Minimum Data Set;
  • Generic Statistical Information Model (GSIM) content;
  • NIEM JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Schema output, providing the basis for the development of JSON Schema for specific exchanges.

NIEM facilitates secure information exchange by providing the definitions, relationships, and structure by which data are shared among domains and communities of interest. NIEM’s Core contains the data components within information exchange elements universally available to all NIEM users. Overall, the NIEM model is very large, with more than 11,000 existing elements, or properties, that define the semantic content of the model.

NIEM 5.0’s new and updated specifications better describe what data looks like and means. NIEM’s strength of extensibility allows individual domains to further define data elements specific to their unique needs and requirements. NIEM currently supports exchange efforts among fifteen chartered domains and communities of interest who are working towards becoming a domain. These are formed when organizations recognize the need for secure, rapid data exchange. Membership includes representatives from federal, state, local, tribal, private, and international organizations.

One powerful example of the NIEM community’s active involvement in the development of 5.0 is NIEM’s Harmonization Workgroup, which oversaw the harmonization process. The workgroup included lead developers and several dozen NIEM user/volunteers actively involved throughout the review process of both Core and cross-domain content. The group remodeled and refactored content to improve consistency and provide easier reuse. In all, the group reviewed over a thousand components, and resolved over eighty harmonization and technical issues.

Notable to NIEM 5.0 are these changes to content, documentation, specifications, and tools:

  • Streamlined release folder structure with removal of version numbers from file paths
  • Updated character encoding (from US-ASCII to UTF-8) with the addition of attribute xml:lang to the reference schemas for improve international support
  • Sequence identification which provides meaning to the order of repeated elements
  • Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) metadata
  • Geography Markup Language (GML) profile refined
  • Architectural changes with updated structures and appinfo utility schemas associated with Naming and Design Rules (NDR), 5.0
  • Return of Sequence identification which denotes meaning to order of repeated elements
  • Extensive harmonization updates associated with both NIEM’s Core, domains, and Code Tables
  • Integrated Core Supplements 4.0.1 and 4.0.2
  • Content additions to NIEM domains and communities of interest
  • Major updates to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center National Data Exchange (NDEx) and Uniform Crime Reporting code tables
  • Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PH-EOC) Minimum Data Set associated with the NIEM Emergency Management Domain
  • Improves decision-making by organizations share information relating to emergency response and emergency management and to increase the ability to prepare for, respond, and recover from emergency situations
  • Generic Statistical Information Model (GSIM) content associated with the NIEM Statistics community of interest (planned domain)
  • Defines objects common to all statistical production, regardless of subject matter, enables statistical organizations to rethink how business can be more efficiently organized
  • XML Schema Documents (XSDs), and additional representations:
    • UML output as XMI files describing UML models supporting class diagrams
    • NIEM JSON specification (currently in Beta 1), JSON Schema output, providing a basis for the development of JSON Schema for specific exchanges
  • Model Package Description (MPD) specification, 5.0
  • Conformance specification, 5.0
  • Code Lists specification
    • NIEM Exchange Specification (IEPD) – simplification of artifacts and structure
  • Tool Updates
    • Schema Subset Generation Tool (SSGT):  updates to XML schema generation
    • Movement:  Replace current 4.2 release with 5.0 release
    • Conformance Testing Assistant (ConTesA):  Add NDR 5.0 NDR Schematron rules
    • Migration Tool:  Add 4.2 -> 5.0 migration support
  • Attributes for Augmentation elements

To review the NIEM 5.0 release package, NIEM release packages are available on GitHub and Additionally, these online tools are available to search and view NIEM release content:

  • The Schema Subset Generation Tool (SSGT) can be used with any published release to search the model and build XML schema subsets for use in IEPDs. Go to Options to choose a previous release.
  • Movement can be used with the current release to search the model.

About National Information Exchange Model

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) provides a model framework with rules and guidance designed to develop consistent, well-defined enterprise level information exchanges. For fifteen years, NIEM has successfully supported information communities of interest with a shared need to exchange data within the federal, state, local, tribal agencies, the private sector, and internationally.

To learn more, please visit