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CHIPS Articles: SPAWAR's Dictionary of Common Terms Advances Interoperability across Navy Systems

SPAWAR's Dictionary of Common Terms Advances Interoperability across Navy Systems
By Elisha Gamboa, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command - January-March 2019
To continue to foster interoperability of engineering systems, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) updated its dictionary of common lexicon for use in all engineering efforts throughout the command and with fleet customers Nov. 29.

Version 2.2 of the SPAWAR Enterprise Architecture Integrated Dictionary provides key updates in an ongoing effort to standardize engineering language across SPAWAR projects.

A common challenge facing today’s Navy is that engineers use different terms to describe the same thing when developing systems, meaning systems are not able to communicate, thus causing a disconnect between Navy systems once delivered to a ship.

SPAWAR’s dictionary is the first step in ensuring the interoperability of SPAWAR-developed Navy systems prior to installation. It provides engineers with a list of standardized terms to use when developing a system or building a model. Standardized vocabulary allows systems to communicate clearly, to speak the same language and to successfully work together.

“The integrated dictionary is a valuable engineering resource, providing engineers with authoritative, validated, pedigreed terms and definitions,” said Michele Cott, SPAWAR’s enterprise architect and lead developer for the dictionary.

The first version of the SPAWAR Enterprise Architecture Integrated Dictionary was launched in June 2017. It is updated quarterly, with the most recent version (2.2) containing significant updates.

Not only has the dictionary been successful at SPAWAR, it is also being used by other Department of the Navy (DON) systems commands (SYSCOMs) in support of cross-SYSCOM projects.

“The integrated dictionary has been implemented within our modeling repository allowing us to consistently communicate and reuse definitions and terms as they relate to our integrated systems development efforts," said Matt Ralston, SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic, Military Sealift Command shipboard management information system project lead.

By providing standardized, authoritative terms, SPAWAR’s dictionary reduces the time, energy and cost of new and revised engineering efforts, eliminating redundancy and improving data integrity.

“The integrated dictionary is so valuable, and so necessary,” said Sam Rix, SPAWAR system of systems engineering analyst. “It provides accurate and reusable architectures, allowing any engineer to use one architecture and plug it into another.”

The SPAWAR Enterprise Architecture Integrated Dictionary is a living document. Terms included in the dictionary are sourced from experienced engineers, authoritative Navy doctrine, and DoD regulations. As authoritative sources are revised, the dictionary is also revised. Similarly, as SPAWAR develops new architectures, the team will identify new terminology and make the necessary updates.

“Frequent updates ensure accuracy and saves engineers time gathering and validating the information, in turn, enhancing speed to delivery,” said Cott. “Ultimately it enables smarter engineering across the Navy and Department of Defense.”

Any Naval Systems Engineering Resource Center (NSERC) registered common access card (CAC) user can access the enterprise architecture integrated dictionary.

NSERC users can access the SPAWAR Enterprise Architecture Integrated Dictionary V2.2 v at:

Additionally, the dictionary is available for use upon request for all government personnel. For more information on the SPAWAR Enterprise Architecture Integrated Dictionary contact lead developer Michele Cott at

SPAWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities supporting naval, joint, coalition and other national missions. SPAWAR consists of more than 10,000 active duty military and civil service professionals located around the world and close to the fleet to keep SPAWAR at the forefront of research, engineering and acquisition to provide and sustain information warfare capabilities to the fleet.

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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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