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Technical Overview

NIEM is a consistent starting point—which includes a data model, governance, training, tools, technical support services, and an active community—that assists users in adopting a standards-based approach to exchanging data. It is available to everyone.

It is a standard way of defining the contents of messages being exchanged. It is not a system or database; nor does it specify how to transmit or store data.

NIEM is technology-agnostic and addresses the format of data as it is exchanged between systems or organizations. This allows diverse communities to collectively leverage a common vocabulary and support message development tools irrespective of technologies, increasing both efficiencies and improving decision-making.

How NIEM Works

The Data Model

Think of the NIEM data model as a mature and stable data dictionary of agreed-upon terms, definitions, and formats, independent of how information is stored in individual agency systems.

The data model consists of two sets of closely related vocabularies: NIEM Core and individual NIEM Domains. NIEM Core, which lies in the center of the figure below, includes data elements commonly understood across all NIEM domains, such as person, activity, location, and item. The individual NIEM domains contain mission-specific data components that build upon NIEM Core concepts.


 Image of NIEM Data Model


NIEM is a national data model used to facilitate information exchange among partners in various disciplines, government-wide. It’s about achieving interoperability: Partners coming together to identify what data needs to be exchanged, then agreeing to exchange that data in a standards-conformant manner.

When it comes to developing information exchanges, agreeing to a common set of exchange data terms and definitions is frequently a significant challenge. Organizations can save time and expenses by leveraging the NIEM data model to avoid this challenge. 

The Repeatable, Reusable Process

Since NIEM exchange developers follow the same methodology, they can borrow from and reuse each other’s work. This helps to reinforce the national collaborations that strengthen NIEM’s governance structure. Because the NIEM data model is composed of data components that cross sectors, functions, and geographic boundaries, an exchange developed for one organizational business requirement could be “reused,” partially or fully, for a different need within that organization or another.

For example, 10 agencies need to exchange information to support disaster response. Instead of coming up with 10 unique information exchanges, the 10 agencies agree on one standardized exchange and each agency “reuses” that exchange. When the eleventh agency comes on board, they also reuse that one exchange.

In an era when return on investment has never been more important to government services, NIEM enables organizations to exchange information across all levels of government in a manner that is both effective and efficient.

Be sure to check out the NIEM Cost Model, which allows users to quantify the associated costs of adopting NIEM.


Ready to Get Started With NIEM?

If you are new to NIEM and not sure how to get started, leverage our engagement process, a reusable framework that organizations can use to:

  • Assess information-sharing capabilities and readiness to adopt NIEM.
  • Evaluate the potential costs and benefits of NIEM.
  • Develop a NIEM adoption roadmap and tactical implementation plan.

To begin exchanging information, one or more data exchanges need to be developed.


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