The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) was launched in 2005 for the purpose of developing, disseminating, and supporting information sharing standards and processes across all branches of government including justice, public safety, emergency and disaster management, intelligence, and homeland security. Through NIEM, government agency data silos can be bridged to facilitate the sharing of information between them.
NIEM provides a common language, a universal XML based vocabulary and a framework by which state, local, tribal, and federal government agencies may share data in both emergency and day-to-day operations. However in practice NIEM data must be wrapped in a messaging protocol like SOAP for exchange across the wide-area / Internet. Proper exchange therefore requires an ability to onboard / offboard NIEM encoded data into a communications format suitable for the Internet and then provide the framework to control how that communication is routed, secured and validated to prevent either transmission error or data compromise.
There are significant challenges around decoration of NIEM data messages into protocols and secondly in managing their exchange end-to-end so as to preserve the fidelity of the data and meet any inter-agency compliance requirements. Without specialized technology to encode and process NIEM data across an exchange, agencies looking to pass NIEM data will need to establish bi-lateral agreements on protocols and policies to exchange data so that the data consumer can understand the data provider.
This does not factor in the need to put in place security frameworks to ensure that the data is not tampered in flight and is only accessed by entitled users. This process is clearly complex and costly in the case of one information provider and one information consumer but grows geometrically more complex and costly as the number of bi-lateral relations increase. Worse, because the encoding and security measures must be coded into the applications, change management and testing become prohibitive.
Layer 7 Gateways are designed to simplify the process of exposing raw data as SOAP-based services easing the process of encoding the data in a communication protocol appropriate for the wide-area. Since the XML Gateways from Layer 7 can also perform high speed XML translation and protocol switching they can also accommodate mismatches in standards or encoding format between interposed agencies.
With the NIEM provider and consumer fully abstracted from one another it also becomes much simpler to manage routing and security policy in the communications layer – not the application layer. With Layer 7 IT managers can graphically define routing, access, message security, identity, data validation, availability policies and have it implemented in the Layer 7 infrastructure without touching the underlying application code. Changes to policy can be implemented in real-time.