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sparxsystems

sparxsystems

Sparx Systems


99 Albert Street
Creswick,
Victoria
3363
Australia
P: +61 3 5345 1140
F: +61 3 5345 1104
 
Sparx Systems specializes in high performance and scalable visual modeling tools for the planning, design and construction of software intensive systems. A Contributing Member of the Object Management Group (OMG), Sparx Systems is committed to realizing the potential of model-driven development based on open standards. The company’s flagship product, Enterprise Architect, has received numerous accolades since its commercial release in August, 2000. Enterprise Architect is the design tool of choice for over 380,000 registered users world-wide.

YouTube Live Stream Webinar: Enterprise Architect 13 Highlights, Part 2ea13 webinar2 sqr

In our second installment of the Enterprise Architect 13 release series, we delve into some of the new productivity tools introduced in this major milestone release.

In this LIVE webinar session, you will learn how to:

  • Generate Dynamic Documents based on a selected Element
  • Undertake Parametric Simulation using SysML and OpenModelica
  • Publish models directly to Joomla!

We are trialling a new webinar technology based on YouTube Live streaming.

To access the webinar, simply visit and bookmark the webinar link below and return at your scheduled time.

Watch Now: Enterprise Architect 13 Highlights Webinar - Part 2

AgilDevops illu 400x400Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) can move IT and Business to a position of congruency and shift IT from application thinking to process (and service) thinking and in Business, from service to IT. The gulf between Business and IT exists on a relationship from a time past, when there was little contact between the two parties following a commission from Business to IT for services and/or products.

Before the availability of ALM, the window on the progress of development projects lacked transparency for most managers, right to the point when business took delivery. Whatever visibility the managers had, was gathered from assumptions rather than from objective data.

Sparx Systems attended the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit in National Harbor during May 2016 where Enterprise Architecture was reviewed as a “catalyst for Digital Tranformation.” and two “big” challenges were identified, as the transformation moves forward. These were, managing the connections within complex ecosystems of communications, partners, platforms, services and technologies and working with New Development methodologies such as Agile, DevOps and Continuous Delivery.

ALM makes IT development visible to upper management and reinforces the requirements of Business to demonstrate Governance, Risk Management and Compliance. On a competitive level it assists in the reduction of development costs, increases innovation and effectively supports change management. As a business process for the management of end to end software development ALM promises benefits in terms of increased project success rates, improved quality of deliverables and reduced development timescales.

Between IT and Business, ALM creates and supports a bridge which embodies a set of processes and methods, including software development, operations, and services, to enhance communication and collaboration between departments. It also aligns the business, development and operations capabilities of the organization, by providing the ability to integrate different tools used and the activities performed within each.

While this establishes a culture of more frequent software builds, tests and releases, the pressure to manage application delivery is growing ,as is the complexity. The need to co-ordinate and automate the process of delivering these projects, with collaborative planning and reporting activities has become critical. Sparx Systems recognises that this requirement makes ALM processes essential to the delivery of worlds best development practices.

 

"DevOps is a culture that supports improvements
in the software development lifecycle through
automation, best practice and collaboration."

 

Tight coupling of the stages of the application lifecycle is a key to increasing productivity in application development and establishing traceability and accountability across multiple processes, locations and tool types, in the stages of development and delivery. This completeness of functionality leads to increased quality, reduces time to market and promotes a culture of business agility. By coordinating activity and facilitating communication, ALM provides real time transparency and traceability, proactive change management and error mitigation.

We hear a lot about cultural change in the discussions about DevOps. We also hear a lot about people. Not so much about enabling technology. There is an accepted notion that DevOps is about drawing together people in DEVelopment and people in OPerations with the goal of shortening delivery time through the elimination of constraints that naturally exist between functional silos.

DevOps is a culture that supports improvements in the software development lifecycle through automation, best practice and collaboration. DevOps is about changing culture and the responsibility for this lies with executive management. To realise a cultural change of automation, best practice and collaboration, is to expose the organisation to DevOps benefits,- agility and productivity. As a key enabler of DevOps, Continuous Delivery supports automation of software development, testing and deployment which are in turn supported by agile planning and execution tools.

sd times alm article madison mooreIn an article by Madison Martin, published recently in SD Times, the impact that DevOps and Agile are having on application lifecycle management (ALM). She states that “Those looking to refine their application life cycle are sifting through the marketplace to find the right tool—one that will give their company agile feature functionality and help them move toward a more continuous way of working. A business can no longer look at just the planning and the building of software; they have to monitor every step in between to make sure the software delivered meets the expectations of the user.”

ALM is accepted as the management of end to end software development and as a business process it promises benefits in terms of increased project success rates, improved quality of deliverables and reduced development timescales. Due to the absence of a common industry standard, ALM deployment is interpreted differently by different stakeholders.

The ALM tools market has seen a continuous evolution over the greater part of the last decade. The change is demonstrated by various benchmarks conducted by Gartner. As recently as July 2016 Gartner has announced their decision to retire “the ADLM MQ and focus on a new MQ for Agile planning and execution tools.” The leading reason cited for this decision is “Shifts in the market due to DevOps.”

Between 2012 and 2013 Gartner blogged that work had begun on the update to the Magic Quadrant for ALM stating “We are subtly shifting our terminology for the market from Application Lifecycle Management to Application Development Lifecycle Management. We feel this is a more accurate depiction of what the tools in this space are focused on.”

In 2008 Gartner published the “Marketscope for Application Lifecycle Management”. This document was described ALM as the practices, processes and tools that aid in the application management lifecycle, specifically the workflow of producing or maintaining an application. This document identified a number of key capabilities that an ALM offering should include. These capabilities have been listed later in this document.

 

Sparx Systems ALM

In 2015 Sparx Systems was named in the 2015 SD Times 100 for its excellence in the ALM and Development Tools category. When using separate tools in development, there can be a lack of integration between the tools used in each phase of the process and due to the absence of a common industry standard, ALM deployment is interpreted differently by different stakeholders.

However, when using Enterprise Architect, an integration of all the key features of ALM is provided in an “out of the box” tool set, which uses a single repository as the common data source. Within the integrated Enterprise Architect project workspace, you can view and update artifacts with version control, code review, and continuous integration tools. This is the level of functionality that defines Enterprise Architect as a leading ALM solution.


Key ALM Capabilities

  • Requirements definition and management
  • Change and configuration management
  • Agile project planning
  • Work item management
  • Quality management, including defect management
  • Reporting
  • Workflow
  • Integration to version management
  • Support for wikis and collaboration
  • Integration to other ALM tools

This is the first of a series of related articles on DevOps and ALM

The final Enterprise Architect User Group event in Europe for 2016 will be held on November 11th at the Folksam, Bohusgatan 14, 106 60 Stockholm.

Tickets available now for the upcoming Swedish Enterprise Architect User Group, full schedule published with presentations based on separate User Story and Technical tracks

agenda updated stockholm nov 2016

 

eausergroupFor just €75, join with other Enterprise Architect users for the last European User Group Event of 2016. Presentations will be in English and Swedish.

Meet other users, and share practical insights, advice, experience and inspiration.

Full event information, including directions to the venue, agenda and presentation abstracts, plus links to buy tickets are available now at www.eausergroup.com

cio review 20 most promising productivity solution providers 2016

Global publication CIOReview has identified Sparx Systems as a stand-out Productivity Solution Provider, including the company in their annual '20 Most Promising Productivity Solution Providers 2016' list.

 

CIOReview has highlighted the importance of productivity solutions with the corporate landscape, citing that '... state-of-the-art productivity tools, no longer does an ‘upgrade’ from IT mean ‘rip-and-replace the infrastructure.’ Rather, it involves an easy add-on to the existing hardware, which seamlessly collaborates with the already functional, process-oriented software, without the high upfront capital expenses.' 

 

Sparx Systems Productivity Tools 2016 Certificate

“We are happy to announce Sparx Systems as one among the 20 Most Promising Productivity Solution Providers 2016,” said Jeevan George, Managing Editor of CIOReview. “Sparx systems have a long and proven track record in a wide range of industries for providing high value, end to end modeling tools that help individuals, groups and large organizations model and manage complex information.”

 

The publication also inteviewed CEO and founder of Sparx Systems, Geoffrey Sparks in this month's magazine, who provided some insight why Enterprise Architect is regarded so highly in the productivity domain; “Our platform has been engineered with appropriate levels of abstraction to support deeply layered architectures and processes that capture the full end-to-end spectrum of knowledge and behavior, within a particular business or domain,” explains Geoffrey. “It operates across several distinct but essentially linked layers.”

 

To read CIOReview's full interview with Geoffrey Sparks, titled 'Sparx Systems - Architecting the Visual Enterprise', simply download the attachment from the link at the top of this article.  

 

 

Monday, 10 October 2016 04:40

Geospatial Data and Service Innovation

According to the World Economic Forum, over the coming years, the employment landscape will be deeply impacted, by the disruptive changes to today's commonly accepted business models.

 

earosehoneycombHowever, opportunity abounds for those industries, enterprises and individuals, who effectively adapt and transform. That said, the middle aged geospatial sector is now facing a crisis, - a perfect storm of advancements in technology infrastructure, market sustainability and geospatial information commodities.

Together, these critical elements present a change force, whose energy source is relentless innovation. It is challenging market exclusivities and the business models of every industry including journalism, taxis, accommodation and travel which have recently, been irrevocably changed.

 

Big Data

A nascent technology, the Internet of Things (IOT) promises to enhance our physical environment and the geo-specific data generated in real time by the IOT, will reveal how the physical world is shaping human activity, - and vice versa. Within a decade, IDC predicts, that 30 billion geo-located things will be connected and this ecosystem will generate a revenue of $1.7 trillion. In 2007 the estimated information content of all human knowledge was 279 Exabytes growing to 35 Zetabytes by 2020.

Big data is disrupting the enterprise, data processing methods and usage and for the enterprise to effectively work with vast volumes of data at speed, new enterprise architectures will be required. People, processes and systems help the enterprise turn raw data into useful information and informed action and with big data talent in short supply, successful users source skills wherever they can find them, leaning heavily on external, experienced resources. Furthermore, well-defined user needs, functional requirements, and application specifications are essential for the success of any enterprise system, be it geospatial or otherwise.

The Big Data explosion is also “driving strong growth in big data-related infrastructure (21.7% CAGR), software (26.2% CAGR), and services (22.7% CAGR),” according to a report from IDC in late 2015, while the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, has forecast a higher than average 17% growth in demand for software developers, between 2014 and 2024.

 

A Turning Point

The AGI Foresight Report 2020, from 2015 highlights the fact, that the geospatial industry is at an existential point in its history. Industry change will only be driven, through the recognition of the latent possibilities of data and data value-add services, and this requires a fundamental and deep understanding of the relationship with digital data. At this time, the inability of the industry to succinctly explain the usefulness or value of their data, tools or services coupled with a perception of an “inner sanctum of GIS” are holding the industry back. To “ditch this image” and change from seeing itself as a data provider and become a data service will present the geospatial industry, with the greatest of untapped opportunities.

As the industry struggles to take advantage of this data El Dorado, other industry sectors are reaping rewards. A recent survey of leaders in the Australian spatial sector “found that 95% believe spatial services are either not achieving growth potential, or that the growth is being captured by other industry sectors.” In a global geoservices market with anticipated annual growth of 30%, ideas have to be actualised faster and more cost-effectively, otherwise competitive market forces will eat the associated opportunity and those ideas will never reach fruition.

 

"... demand for enterprise application development is
set to significantly outstrip supply in the short term..."

 

Innovation

The uniqueness of geospatial technology, lies in its use of geography as its common framework to integrate many different interests, within which the range of innovative use cases, is growing rapidly. Ubiquitous geospatial technology flows into opportunity spaces and enables innovation in many sectors and opportunity for the geospatial industry, lies in collaboration with those sectors which consume geospatial data.

For example Drone technology is now feeding the demand for high quality data and enhancing data processing and accessibility and it is predicted that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) will replace conventional ways of collecting remotely sensed data.
A practical use case for this innovation is the support being provided in Kathmandhu for the humanitarian efforts, following the devastating Nepal earthquakes. Another is conservation and environmental protection, such as analysing glacier dynamics in the Himalayas.

 

Software's Growing Market Influence

'Preparing for the Software Future', written earlier this year by Sparx Systems, focused on the pervasive influence of software on the future, specifically in terms of those innovative business solutions, in every sector of industry, (including geospatial) which are disrupting long accepted and protected models. The post noted, that success for a growing number of companies, lay in embracing the rising strategic importance of software and in viewing software development, as a crucial competitive battlefield.

The US government also acknowledges this fact. In April the Washington Post reported that leading companies, like Walmart and AT&T, along with the likes of Facebook and Apple and a bipartisan coalition of 27 governors, have called on Congress “arguing that the United States needs far more students who are literate in the technologies that are transforming nearly every industry.”

The demand for enterprise application development is set to significantly outstrip supply in the short term and given these market dynamics, platforms that reduce hand coding and enable rapid delivery of business applications are essential technology. By freeing businesses of this overhead, these development platforms significantly reduce the costs associated with traditional development solutions while addressing the challenges of future enterprise application development and legacy modernization.

 

Geospatial Services Demand

Oxera published a report on behalf of Google back in January 2013 showing a geospatial services market revenues at between $150-270B per year and according to Technavio, the global GIS market will experience “a CAGR of more than 10% by 2020.” Analysts have estimated the software segment to account for a market share of more than 48% during the forecast period.

Digital disruption will create many new cross-functional roles for which employees will need both technical, social and analytical skills. An article by Forbes reporting on the skills demand being generated by big data shows that between 2014 and 2015, the highest growth was for software and application developers. This is corroborated by the Geospatial Technology Competency Model from the US Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

geospatial technology competency model

Software based demand for business applications, coupled with well documented shortages of developers , is giving rise to the 'citizen developer', a new role description, that is increasingly turning up in social media. According to the Gartner glossary, this emergent user, is one who “creates new business applications for consumption by others, using development and runtime environments, sanctioned by corporate IT.” While it is likely that citizen developers such as a GIS-savvy geographers with limited programming skills, could eventually become developers, coding is less that 20% of the application development lifecycle. When it comes to developing a concise, correct, consistent, and mutually understandable design, software system requirements and designs, must be easily analysed, developed and managed in a coordinated manner.

Amidst myriad communication barriers and team pressures, constantly changing system requirements, increasing complexity and shrinking design cycles, the right automation tools are essential to ensure that the right system is built, with the right quality and performance characteristics, within budget and on schedule.

The ability to universally share maps in the cloud, makes them available across many mobile devices. These can be programmed and customized by outside developers and users, through application programming interfaces, or APIs. With the introduction of the Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect ArcGIS profile, the information gap between different domains is bridged, allowing geospatial components to be linked to requirements, system and business models. Geospatial experts are equipped with the modeling tools, to create and work with geodatabases, re-engineer spatial legacy data and integrate their work with others.

 

Collaborative Approach

As experiences are gathered from initial commercial applications of a new technology, the range of functionalities and their adaption are increased, for each specific technology use case. The geospatial industry recognises, that its specialists “are no longer representative of the typical user of many of the technologies (they) are developing.” Innovation is driven and supported by collaboration between different stakeholders with shared aims. The collective intellectual effort of academic institutions, start-ups and large corporations, propels the progress of new technologies.

Collaboration is becoming a new enterprise standard and it enables industry and enterprise to synergise the strengths of all their parts, while creating a shared awareness of issues. It encourages trust and builds confidence in group stakeholders and promotes interoperability and collective problem resolution. Because collaboration reduces or eliminates process overlap and resource redundancy, creative energy is harnessed and the chance of success is increased. This makes practical sense, as the combined data sets are too large for any one industry or enterprise to analyse. With a documented history of working collaboratively with many industries including the geospatial industry, Sparx Systems standards based technology, is used by these industries, to assist their adaption to the challenges of disruption.

Innovation often occurs by bringing different approaches to problem solving, together in a business. Many industries have worked hard over the last decade to define shared meta-models that are specific to their industry and which support a standardized structure for systems communications. It is these models which now form the basis for contractual information sharing across organizations and across geographic borders.

However, when information is shared between organizations, it is frequently the case that only a subset of the full meta-model is required, but it is essential, that what is shared conforms precisely to the agreed meta-model. In this case, the Schema Composer is the perfect tool for deriving contractual schema based on sub-sets and restricted data sets that take a 'slice' through the meta-model as a whole.

 

"Collaboration is becoming a new enterprise standard and it enables
industry and enterprise to synergise the strengths of all their parts..."
 

 

Role of Academia

The World Economic Forum report “The Future of Jobs 2016”, notes that education systems are providing siloed training and continuing practices from last century that are hindering progress in addressing the current labor market and talent issues. The Report recommends that businesses and education providers, government and others collaborate as this can result in higher quality across the talent pool, lower costs and increased social benefits.

Similarly the United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) report “Future Trends in Geospatial Information Management: the five to ten year vision”, commenting on extracting value from big data, notes that “will place a premium on highly skilled data modellers.” The report also notes that “The development of these skill bases will be delivered through a wide range of professional, academic and in business approaches, as recognition grows of the need for a managed process of skills development and capacity building.”

 

Support for the Geospatial sector and Academia

Sparx Systems has an education outreach function that delivers flexible licensing options for academic institutions and individuals, through in our Academic Licencing Program. Access to Non Commercial and low cost licences of the popular visual modeling platform, Enterprise Architect is made available to those education institutions who are interested in offering education programs that address the challenges presented by big data. We have also worked closely with 50+ global industry domains including government, providing licences through our support program for Standards Development and have instituted awards to encourage universities and institutions to develop model based solutions for industry. Two of these awards have been offered in the health and geospatial communities and were awarded through HL7 and the EU INSPIRE.

As an organisation that has been recognised by CIOReview, for helping rapid adaption to new technology trends and improving operations across the enterprise lifecycle, we look forward to ongoing collaboration with industry, academia and government.

LOGO SDTimesSparx Systems' Enterprise Architect has been featured in a recently published SD Times article, Online and Social Media Editor Madison Moore identifies the emerging influence of DevOps and Agile within the ALM domain... and the software that is supporting Enterprises to master their future evolution.

 

"Market disruptions such as mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as the digital and omnichannel trend as a whole, have contributed to this evolution of ALM. Once these disruptions happen in areas like DevOps and agile, they change the way companies build their applications."

 

Enterprise Architect has been identified as a platform that is "... a comprehensive team-based modeling environment that helps organizations analyze, design and construct reliable, well-understood systems." The feature rich toolset supports project teams to communicate and capture essential business information, to transform the Enterprise into a standards compliant entity, therfore realizing the potential for interoperability and future agility.

 

To read the full article by Madison Moore, please visit the SD Times website 

CIOReview cover 100916In a candid interview with Arun Kant from CIOReview, Sparx Systems' CEO Geoffrey Sparks highlights how Enterprise Architecture has become an imperative for survival in the ever-changing and globalized corporate landscape.

 

CIOReview has also included Sparx Systems in their '20 Most Promising Enterprise Architecture Technology Providers 2016' list, resulting from a robust selection process actioned by a highly qualified panel of domain experts. The in-depth interview with Geoffrey Sparks is the featured article in this month's edition of CIOReview, where Geoffrey discusses the Sparx Systems tradition of continual development of the Enterprise Architect platform, while maintaining the highly competitive price-point that enables affordable outfitting for all project stakeholders.

 

Geoffrey Sparx, Founder and CEO, Sparx Systems

 

To read the full featured article, simply download the PDF attachment at the top of this article.

 

cioreview ea tool vendors top 20 logo 2016

BBC Las Vegas 2016

 

Sparx Systems is proudly sponsoring the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference, the official event of the International Institute of Business Analysis (#IIBA) at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, during Oct 31 - Nov 4.

The @BBCapability event provides attendees with insight into Business Analysis & Architecture, Business Rules & Strategy, plus Business Strategy & Transformation, in the pursuit of business excellence. A delegation from Sparx Systems will showcase the powerful Business Transformation features within Enterprise Architect.

Enterprise Architect posseses a powerful suite of features, specifically targetted at the Business Analysis profession - From the initial, yet critical Requirements Engineering stages of any project, through to Business Modeling, Business Process Simulation and onwards to Documentation.

Sparx Systems is also in partnership with the BBC event host IIBA, working closely with chapters and the core leadership team towards the provision of a reference model of the Business Analysis Body Of Knowledge (BABOK).

For more details about the BBC event, and Sparx Systems' involvement at the event, please visit the BBC website.

Saturday, 08 October 2016 00:55

Sparx Systems Releases Enterprise Architect 13

Sparx Systems is proud to announce the full release of Enterprise Architect Version 13.

This groundbreaking build focuses on streamlining the user interface, agile teams, model management and parametric simulation.

 

Enterprise Architect 13 - A Fresh New Look!

 

In its 15 years of continuous development, Enterprise Architect has become the pre-eminent visual modeling platform, bringing together all aspects of the development cycle. Its feature-set has evolved to provide traceability, from the initial design phase through to deployment, maintenance, testing and change control. Version 13 delivers significant new capabilities in these areas and delivers them, in a streamlined and agile interface.

 

Enterprise Architect 13, represents many years of research, consultation and development - working with a broad community of customers, partners and industry observers. This has helped make this release what Sparx Systems has identified as truly defining.

 

Sparx Systems is confident, that the combination of distributed agile modeling and design, cloud based repository, Kanban project management, simulation, software development and database engineering capabilities of Version 13, will represent a powerful platform for realizing even the most ambitious projects.

 

A full list of updates and enhancements in Enterprise Architect 13 can be found at the Sparx Systems website.

 

Additional resources:

Security - A Shared Concern

In July 2016, Sparx Systems attended the Australian National Security Summit as a key sponsor. What struck one about this conference, was the chorus of concern from the speakers, for collaboration and integration. In every presentation the shared concern was for the ability for different people in the same or geographically dispersed locations, to share information. Joining the dots, so as to be able to identify patterns or connections, in what appear as isolated or unrelated events that could present a threat to security.

In his presentation, 'Asia Pacific to 2025 - Challenges and Opportunities' Peter White from the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, emphasised that to maintain aviation security in our region there was a “need to work collectively and cooperatively with regional partners”. Detective Inspector Glyn Lewis, National Coordinator Cyber Crime Operations, from the Australian Federal Police spoke of “collaborating with our international law enforcement partners” in his presentation 'Tackling the challenge of Cyber Crime in an ever changing landscape'.

In the same month, at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw, participating Heads of State and Government committed to enhance resilience, in facing “a broader and evolving range of military and non-military security challenges.” The statement went on to say, that being resilient against these challenges requires Allies “to work across the whole of government and with the private sector.” Resilience also requires that the Alliance continues “to engage, as appropriate with international bodies particularly the European Union, and with partners.”

 

Sharing Information

In the international security network today, the message to increase collaboration and integration for information sharing is consistent. The Information Sharing Environment (ISE) was established by the United States Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and provides analysts, operators, and investigators with the information needed, to enhance national security.

In 2001, a handful of organizations, collectively known as the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, started to create a seamless, interoperable model for data exchange to overcome the challenges of exchanging information, across state and city government boundaries. The first pre-release of the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM), a foundational predecessor and building block of NIEM, was announced in April 2003. Parallel to the GJXDM effort, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began working on standards for metadata and these efforts by the justice and homeland security communities, led to the beginnings of the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM).

 

National Information Exchange Model

NIEM was formally initiated in April 2005 by Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, uniting key stakeholders from federal, state, local, and tribal governments, to develop and deploy a national model for information sharing and the organizational structure to govern it. A standards-based approach to exchanging information, NIEM enables communication between systems, even if they have never communicated before, while ensuring that information is well understood and carries the same consistent meaning, across various communities supporting interoperability.

NIEM standardizes the semantics describing the data, so that the underlying information is exchanged between jurisdictions seamlessly, accurately and – when fully implemented – without delay.
For example, databases in one American state may refer to a person in jail as a prisoner, while another refers to someone in identical circumstances as an inmate. If the federal government wants to query databases in both states to ask if a particular person is in jail, all three need to agree on identical, standardized language. NIEM enables individual agencies and sectoral domains to map their language, to the terminology set out in the NIEM standards.

 

Joining the Dots for a Clearer Picture

In the poem by John Godfrey Saxe , six visually impaired men provide their individual descriptions of an elephant by touching the animal. In their conclusions “each was partly in the right And all were in the wrong.” The message of the story is that when not coordinated, the investigations of a system components and the relationships between them, prevents shared understanding of the overall picture, which can lead to serious misinterpretations, based on a lack of information.

The brilliance of the standards creation effort is, that while standards codify best practices, for the benefit of all stakeholders, they also reduce or eliminate those differences between individual stakeholders, that would hold them in silos and place them collectively at a competitive disadvantage. In the context of collaboration and integration, security standards eliminate the weak linkages in the chain.

The ISE SAR Functional Standard exemplifies this value proposition. It supports improved information sharing and safeguarding capability, enabling community members to better plan and execute initiatives.
Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) is a common police procedure for recording observations from patrol shifts. The different personnel capturing the information, varied locations, formats and definitions has raised the question as to how best to use the data. How will different people in the same or different locations join the dots, to identify patterns or connections in what appear as isolated or unrelated events?

In the past, Local, State and Federal systems were not designed to interoperate. In fact, in some states, it was illegal to share information with the federal government. Incompatible computer systems compounded the siloed nature of information. Most people are familiar with the stories of emergency vehicles turning up at the wrong address due to incompatibility between the databases of different local authorities.

 

Communities of Interest

The Nationwide SAR Initiative (NSI) is a partnership among state, local, tribal, and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department Of Justice (DOJ); the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s eGuardian; the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative; and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) all unanimously support the SAR (Suspicious Activity Report). This is what is called a NIEM Community of Interest (CoI). These NIEM domains each have an executive steward, to officially manage and govern a portion of the NIEM data model.

With the development of XML, departments were able to exchange information legally while maintaining their own legacy systems naming conventions and exchange information using a metadata dictionary. For instance, agreeing to use the term “car” instead of automobile or vehicle, allowed different entities to share information without changing their own departmental language.

Over the last decade, the NIEM (National Information Exchange Model has become a significant new resource for information sharing. In 2007 the various stakeholders in different departments got together to discuss how to standardise information sharing and in due course, defined the elements of the SAR Information Exchange Package Documentation or IEPD. 16,000 data elements from various sources were collected analyzed and reduced to around 2,000 unique data elements which were incorporated into about 300 reusable components, resulting in the Global Justice XML Data Dictionary (Global JXDD). The Global JXDD components were accessible from multiple sources and resulted in increased interoperability, throughout different justice and public safety information systems.

 

niem iepd lifecycle3

 

Using the JXDD would define the terms that would be used to compose a SAR, wherever it was used. In 2008, the office of the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment issued the ISE SAR Functional Standard codifying the SAR IEPD.


Painting the Picture

The IEPD is a data dictionary that allows agencies to validate data exchanged in reports or queries. It provides a clearly defined path for the development of an exchange model and a reusable basis for any new system to join the same exchange. When speaking about how the SAR IEPD enabled agencies to connect unrelated events, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Joan T. McNamara commented, “This paints an amazing picture in real time.”

Non-experts can develop NIEM-conformant messages if required and watch officers, analysts, and scientists can read and interpret those messages, even if they are sent machine-to-machine.


Sparx Systems Support for NIEM

The NIEM-specific UML profile – which enables data exchanges to be modeled in tools like Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect – was released by the OMG in 2013. A recorded webinar (March 2016) which examining the benefits of using Enterprise Architect to model and define information sharing using the NIEM standard, is available on YouTube videos from Sparx Systems and can be viewed here:

 

 

Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect supports the representation of the NIEM as a Unified Modeling Language (UML) profile, providing the ability for users to automatically produce NIEM-conformant XML schema. The MDG Technology for NIEM facilitates the creation and development of IEPD models, by providing starter models, model patterns and a number of toolboxes, for creating IEPD models and schema models.

All of the NIEM specifications and naming rules are written into the NIEM-UML profile now built in in Enterprise Architect. The challenge of building a NIEM exchange for an organization is now simplified and automated, enabling architects and developers to finish sooner with a smaller budget and better quality assurance.

Complete IEPDs can be generated from IEPD models and NIEM conformant schemas from information models. NIEM Reference Schema can be imported into the model and NIEM subset namespaces, composed from elements of the NIEM Reference Schemas can be created along with PIM, PSM and Model Package Description (MPD) diagrams, using the NIEM Toolbox pages. By using the Schema Composer, subsets of the NIEM -core reference schema can be easily created, eliminating time consuming human error.


Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect is featured on the NIEM Tools Catalog.