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CHIPS Articles: Message from the DON CIO, April-June 2009

Message from the DON CIO, April-June 2009
By Robert J. Carey - April-June 2009
Our nation has set forth strategies to protect our homeland and the maritime domain that surrounds it. A key facet of these strategies is building partnerships. The Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have partnered together to build our 21st century seapower.

Partnerships are being built across federal agencies and with state, local and tribal entities. Partnerships also expand globally with our NATO allies and other international partners.

Expanding cooperative relationships and developing partnerships with other nations contributes to the security and stability of the maritime domain for the benefit of all. All of these partnerships rely on the ability to share information.

In the Department of the Navy, our efforts are primarily focused on the maritime domain. Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is defined as "effective knowledge of all activities associated with the global maritime environment that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the United States." Information sharing is a foundational tenet of MDA.

Recent piracy events challenge international security and impact the global economy. Combating these events has brought about a new requirement to interact and share information with a diverse set of partners outside our firewalls on a non-classified enclave. This has brought a new perspective and new challenges.

Truly successful information sharing requires a shift in the way we do business. The first and perhaps most difficult challenge is changing culture. We must move away from the "isolated need to know" and move to the "trusted need to share." As the Web 2.0 generation continues to pervade our workforce with their ingrained practice of constant collaboration and openness, this will also help shift our government culture toward one that readily fosters and benefits from information sharing.

A second challenge is the fact that existing information sharing policies are not always adequate. In addition to following all civil liberty, regulatory and legal guidelines, before we share our information, we must be ever vigilant about securing sensitive data and sharing that data in a secure environment. But we must also develop reliable and repeatable governance and risk management processes that will foster information sharing.

Lastly, since our world of information technology is evolving more rapidly, additional technologies, such as attribute-based access control, become central to assured information access. With these technologies, we can ensure that consumers of information are authorized access using standards-based identity management solutions.

Ultimately, information sharing is all about the data. We need the ability to find the data, access it, sort through it and combine it to develop information, intelligence and knowledge, and then make those findings available. Some of today's ongoing efforts will provide a solid foundation for data standards and information exchange.

The release of Universal Core version 2.0 (UCore) marks a successful milestone toward achieving interoperability. It is a collective effort across four federal departments to create a core standard of the most common data elements across all possible exchanges.

The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) leverages the data exchange standards efforts successfully implemented by the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative. It facilitates timely, secure information sharing across the justice, public safety, emergency and disaster management, intelligence, and homeland security enterprises.

The Maritime Information Exchange Model (MIEM) provides standards that support the tracking of maritime vessels, cargo and people with rich metadata associations to support increased information sharing and will provide the foundation for the MDA data architecture.

All of these efforts are based in Extensible Markup Language which is a platform-independent standard. XML requires minimal work to alter existing and legacy systems or databases and can usually be implemented in a matter of weeks to support net-centric information sharing.

The scope of maritime domain awareness is broad, but it is important that we do not try to "boil the ocean." Rather, an incremental approach to implementation will allow us to achieve quick results and build upon successes or troubleshoot issues as they arise. These incremental results also push the cultural, policy and technical barriers one bit at a time.

While my office has the lead for the interagency effort to develop a comprehensive MDA architecture, there are several commands contributing to this important effort, including OPNAV N3/5 (Information, Plans and Strategy), which has the overall lead for MDA within the Navy. Together we will define and refine the aligned sets of tools used to deliver the right maritime information at the right time to authorized users, whoever they are. Information sharing within the context of MDA presents definite challenges, but we are working together to overcome them.

Robert J. Carey
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