Public Safety Canada is exploring, promoting and supporting a system that promotes timely access by departments and agencies to high-quality information from a variety of sources. This information can be exchanged and accessed across a broad landscape of systems, agencies and jurisdictions. PSC highlighted the benefits of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) 3.0 and the Canadian perspective at GTEC 2013.
As governments seek to improve service delivery for citizens, it is increasingly common to have multiple departments and agencies as well as other levels of government involved in initiatives. Effective decision-making, programs and services require the sharing of information. The necessity to share information is amplified by the increasingly interconnected nature of the environment in which public servants operate.
NIEM facilitates interoperability among diverse organizations through a robust and mature set of models, tools and processes. With the release of NIEM 3.0 just around the corner, now is an opportune time to consider the benefits NIEM can bring to your organization.
NIEM traces its roots to the justice and public safety communities in the United States, where it originated in 2005. It began as an initiative developed by a community of agencies with a need to exchange information. Now, eight years later, NIEM is successfully used to facilitate interoperability among diverse organizations and is employed in more than a dozen communities of interest at all levels of government in the U.S., and international adoption is growing, most notably in Canada, Mexico, the European Union, and Australia.
In the Canadian context, Public Safety Canada has been exploring and promoting NIEM since 2010. Key developments over the past three years include: the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) endorsement of NIEM for use within the Canadian policing community; Public Safety Canada participation within the U.S. NIEM governance, representing Canadian interests to the broader NIEM community; and the identification of PSC’s chief information officer as the lead for NIEM across the federal government. During that time, an increasing number of federal organizations have begun investigating and/or adopting NIEM to enhance their information sharing capabilities.
At the 2011 North America Day in Mexico City, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the collective intent to carry out cooperative activities in the area of information sharing, interoperability and exchange. Subsequently, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. conducted two pilot projects in the areas of public safety and public health, successfully demonstrating the technical capability to share information in a timely and effective manner across national boundaries using NIEM. These initiatives helped demonstrate that NIEM can be applied with existing systems and initiatives without adding undue overhead while building a foundation for potential future expansion of the information exchanges. The success of these projects has helped to solidify Canada’s position as a leader in the NIEM space outside the U.S.
The benefits of using NIEM have been consistently observed by diverse organizations. Using NIEM has been shown to reduce the time needed to design, build and implement robust, agile information sharing capabilities, to cut the cost to share information with reusable components and exchanges, enabling quick and cost-effective entry by new partners, and the ability for organizations to leverage existing systems by making their information assets available.
More specific to the Canadian context, NIEM adoption also presents the opportunity to leverage the significant U.S. investment to date and the ability to work more seamlessly with U.S. partners, many of whom are already using NIEM.
NIEM makes information sharing fast, easy, accurate and efficient. NIEM has a significant user community in the U.S., and a growing base of implementers in Canada, whose expertise can be leveraged to determine if and when to use NIEM, as well as to provide lessons learned and guidance to facilitate adoption. Furthermore, with the upcoming release of NIEM 3.0, enhancements will reduce the effort required to implement and increase the benefits of adoption for Canadian organizations as well as providing general benefits such as better harmonization across the domains, simpler augmentation and enhanced referencing.
Public Safety Canada continues to promote, support and evolve NIEM and its adoption in Canada. With a web presence and an experienced team of experts, PSC is well-positioned to provide guidance and assistance to potential and existing NIEM users.