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The use of NIEM results in machine-readable information exchanges. NIEM uses eXtensible Markup Language (XML). The NIEM model is defined using W3C XML Schema—which is technology and platform independent. You can also represent NIEM in Unified Modeling Language (UML) with tooling that implements the NIEM-UML profile, and automatically produces NIEM-conformant XML schema.

Any system can put data into an XML document and transmit it to an exchange partner. Any system can receive and parse an XML document to extract the data. The hard part is ensuring that the system producing the data creates an XML document that means what the receiving system developer thinks it means, and vice versa. That's what the NIEM standards-based approach is all about.

The purpose of NIEM is to provide a standard, extensible format for use in the exchange of information between systems. It is a standard way of defining the contents of messages being exchanged—it's about the data and how it's structured. NIEM is not a system or database; nor does it specify how to transmit or store data. NIEM is a data layer (i.e., a payload). You rarely ever use NIEM by itself. Depending on business requirements, information exchanges might also require access controls, policy automation, and other aspects of implementation.

NIEM is currently defined in W3C XML Schema. It can be represented in UML. To ensure the NIEM Program is growing its technical architecture and capabilities in alignment with community needs—future targets for representation may include JSON, RDF, and others. Have a business requirement for something new? Let us know. Contact us here.

Learn more about NIEM-UML here.

How NIEM Works
While the "M" in NIEM stands for Model, NIEM is much more than that.

Common Vocabulary—the Model

When using NIEM, you only need to "speak" two languages: your own (system's vocabulary) and NIEM. The NIEM model provides a reference vocabulary for consistent reusable exchanges.

When developing information exchanges, agreeing to a common set of data elements and definitions is a frequent challenge. The NIEM model was built to address this challenge. For example, a previous data exchange included four partner organizations. As one of the four partner organizations, you would have had to connect to three different systems and negotiate a common language between them. Now, it's just your language and NIEM.

NIEM provides this common vocabulary, thus a place to start—saving time and money.

New communities can add to the model through the NIEM domain onboarding process.

Community Collaboration

The use of NIEM accelerates collaboration in and across communities.

NIEM provides a foundation for the information exchange discussion. 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.

For example, each law enforcement jurisdiction has a different definition of a warrant. Collaboratively, the Justice community came together to define the minimum requirements for a warrant. This exchange specification can then be used verbatim or with modification based on local requirements. This helps to drive consistency of implementation nationwide, which enables the seamless exchange of warrant data regardless of location, variation of format, and how the data is stored.

Learn more about the communities that leverage NIEM here.
Learn more about NIEM's collaborative governance here.

Exchange Development

NIEM provides a consistent, repeatable, and reusable way to build information exchanges. There are a number of ways to develop an information exchange. Every organization within an agency, possibly every developer within an organization, may have a preferred way to do development. That's the point.

Since NIEM exchange developers follow the same development lifecycle, they can borrow from and reuse each other's work. An exchange developed for one organizational business need could be "reused," partially or fully, for a different need within that or another organization.

In an era when return on investment has never been more important to government services, NIEM enables organizations to exchange information 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.

Tools and Training

Tools are available to help manage, search, develop, validate, document, and share. Visit the NIEM Tools Catalog here. In addition, free online NIEM training is available. Learn more about NIEM training here.

Choose your Technical NIEM starting point from the topic areas below:

The Model Button Exchange Development Button

Need to Build a Roadmap for NIEM Adoption?

If you're new to NIEM and not sure how to get started, leverage the NIEM engagement process, a reusable framework that you 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.

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