Geospatial Integration

Using GML with NIEM

The role and utility of geospatial technology continues to increase along with the amount of information containing geotags (address, latitude/longitude, location). To meet this growing demand, NIEM developed geospatial exchange capabilities that leverage Geography Markup Language (GML) standards established by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). By combining NIEM with GML, mission partners benefit from shared access to the common operating data and services used within these geospatial systems. NIEM is working with members of the community who have leveraged GML in NIEM exchange development. Please contact us if you have examples of how you’re using NIEM and GML.

Geo4NIEM Efforts

What is it?

The Geospatial Enhancement for NIEM (Geo4NIEM) initiative enhances NIEM’s geospatial exchange capabilities by demonstrating and providing enterprise NIEM-conformant content in a map visualization context that:

  • Provided the appropriate security markings and access controls to ensure the right people have access to the right information at the right time in the right context.
  • Can be reused across the public and private sector.
  • Promoted cost-savings (through use of NIEM and OGC community open standards).

There have been two major Geo4NIEM efforts:

Geo4NIEM Part 1 (2013) was a collaborative, hands-on rapid prototype development and testing initiative in accordance with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)’s Interoperability Program. The partnership included NGA, Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Army Geospatial Center and numerous participants and supporters from the public and private sector. The Geo4NIEM Part 1 pilot met the following objectives:

  • Provided the appropriate security markings and access controls to ensure the right people have access to the right information at the right time in the right context.
  • Can be reused across the public and private sector.
  • Promoted cost-savings (through use of NIEM and OGC community open standards).

There have been two major Geo4NIEM efforts:

  • Developed recommendations for the inclusion and standard use of embedded geography markup language (GML) with NIEM Information Exchange Package Documentations (IEPDs).
  • Developed recommendations for the standardized use of Naming and Design Rules (NDRs) and the use of adaptors (e.g., NIEM wrapper for GML).
  • Tested and demonstrated use of a standardized embedded GML and adaptors within NIEM IEPDs.
  • Developed architecture documentation and “Fact Sheet” for the use of embedded GML and adaptors for use with NIEM IEPDs.


Developed architecture documentation and “Fact Sheet” for the use of embedded GML and adaptors for use with NIEM IEPDs.

The Geo4NIEM Part 1 initiative affirmed that NIEM information exchange packages (IEPs) can include GML-based data components, and that GML documents can include NIEM-based data components. It culminated in a demonstration of how enhanced geospatial capabilities enable situational awareness through the ability to identify, process, and comprehend critical information during an incident.

The Geo4NIEM initiative provided eight recommendations (specific to GML adapters in NIEM) for consideration in the NIEM 3.0 update. Seven recommendations were implemented; one recommendation had no impact on the model itself. Overall, no significant changes were recommended to the NIEM technical architecture. An engineering report summarizing the findings and recommendations of the Geo4NIEM initiative was published in November of 2013. Download the engineering report to read more about the findings.

NIEM Request of Information Exchange (RFI)

The NIEM Request for Information (RFI) exchange facilitates interagency processes involving requirements, tasking, and information gathering activities that support data collection and awareness within intelligence, public safety, emergency management, and response operations. A NIEM RFI exchange document provides the mechanism through which intelligence analysts and operations managers can request and receive relevant information for processing and analysis.

MDA – Maritime Domain Awareness (Vessel Position/Track)

Maritime Domain Awareness is an inter-agency and international effort to detect and prevent threats at sea or in any navigable waterway. The NIEM Vessel Position exchange from the Maritime Domain supports the effective understanding of anything associated with global maritime that could impact the United States' security, safety, economy, or environment. NIEM facilitates this understanding through effective, timely sharing of vital, secure information among many key partners by representing vessels, people, cargo, and maritime locations and activities.

Geo4NIEM Part 2 (2015) was one of four threads in OGC’s Testbed 11—a scenario-based test and demonstration of Geo4NIEM work. It focused on enhancing NIEM’s geospatial exchange capabilities to include Intelligence Community (IC) data encoding specifications, along with OASIS standards to enable granular data object level access authorization and/or denial aligned to OCG web services. The Geo4NIEM Part 2 testbed met the following objectives:

  • Assessed support in NIEM for IC security specifications (ISM, NTK, TDF) and recommended a security architecture.
  • Demonstrated secure information exchange using architecture from Task 1.
  • Assessed NIEM and GML support for geospatial data exchange from NIEM-based client to GML-based client and back (round-trip); recommended a round-trip architecture.
  • Demonstrated round-trip geospatial data exchange using the architecture from Task 3.
  • Demonstrated OGC Web Feature Service (WFS) on GML feature representations with embedded NIEM components.
  • Reached consistent security approach across the OGC suite of service standards.

Why is it needed?

Geospatial information technologies are increasingly a foundation for supporting emergency management, public safety, and other missions. Because many of these communities are already using NIEM, efforts to enhance NIEM’s geospatial exchange capabilities will help significantly improve inter-government information sharing of this critical data source.

What’s next?

The following recommended focus areas are under consideration for potential future Geo4NIEM work:

  • Tools and best practices for exposing NIEM Information Exchange Package Documentation (IEPD) through the OGC Web Feature Service (WFS) interface, including making IEPD schemas available via WFS.
  • Tools and best practices for expressing and enforcing access control policy in terms of IC security metadata.
  • Best practices for simplified IEPDs (i.e., location and time core elements in GML Simple Features profile; model similar to Cursor-on-Target (CoT)).


The Geo4NIEM Part 2 Testbed affirmed that, with reasonable effort, it is possible to combine NIEM, IC security specifications, OGC Web Service components and GML-aware clients to support information exchange with authorized users. This is a huge step forward toward enabling first responders, law enforcement, emergency management, military support and the intelligence community to collaborate real time without compromising access controls. Access control engines can work with NIEM/IC data encoding, with or without a services framework. Findings were shared during the OGC meetings held during June 2015.

Testbed 11 Engineering Reports summarizing Geo4NIEM Part 2 are as follows:

Title: Testbed 11 Geo4NIEM Architecture Design and Implementation Guidance and Fact Sheet

Reference Number: OGC 15-051r3

Overview: This document describes background considerations, as well as an overview of the services, data encodings and access control frameworks that compose the Geo4NIEM Testbed 11 architecture.


Title: Testbed 11 NIEM & IC Data Encoding Specification Assessment and Recommendations ER

Reference Number: OGC 15-048r3

Overview: This document is a product of a Task 1, which assessed the potential for security tagging and access control from IC Data Encoding Specifications to be leveraged with NIEM in support of information exchange. The purpose was to determine if the current architecture of NIEM can support IC specification alignment. The IC Data Encoding Specifications include, but are not limited to, ISM, NTK and TDF metadata.


Title: Testbed 11 Results of Test and Demonstration of NIEM Using IC Data Encoding Specifications ER

Reference Number: OGC 15-050r3

Overview: This document is a product of Task 2, which used preliminary findings and recommended architectures for IC Data Encoding Specification support identified in Task 1, and performed a Test and Demonstration of the recommended architecture leveraging the results of Testbed 9 and previous Geo4NIEM initiatives where appropriate. Results of this Test and Demonstration were documented in an Engineering Repot containing the Findings and Recommendations with reference to refinements to the originally proposed architecture prepared in Task 1.


Title: Testbed 11 NIEM-GML-NIEM Round-Trip Assessment and Recommendations ER

Reference Number: OGC 15-030r3

Overview: This document is a product of Task 3, which assessed the NIEM and GML support for geospatial data exchange round-trip workflow processes to include: creation, transfer, receipt, modification, return and acceptance of XML content originating as NIEM IEPDs; and Task 4, which covered the testing and demonstration of the recommended architecture structure supporting NIEM-GML-NIEM round-trip assessment identification.


Title: Testbed 11 NIEM-IC Feature Processing API Using OGC Web Services ER

Reference Number: OGC 15-047r3

Overview: This document is a product of Task 5, which performed Test and Demonstrations using OGC web services, such as Basic and Transactional Web Feature Service (WFS-T) and Policy Enforcement Points (PEPs), to process GML feature representations leveraging NIEM components. The Test and Demonstrations included, but are not limited to feature, retrieval, insert, update and delete.