Data interoperability project nears completion
A project begun in January to develop standards that would let a variety of public-safety agencies share data across multiple vendor platforms is scheduled to conclude in September, according to officials speaking at last month’s Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials conference in Orlando.
The Informational Exchange Development Project — a partnership between APCO, the IJIS Institute, The Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Law Enforcement Information Technical Standards Committee (LEITSC) — set out to establish a governance model to let APCO and LEITSC move forward with any standards that resulted from the project.
The second step was to create 12 information exchange packet documents (IEPDs) that would be based on extensible markup language (XML), which is used to describe the data that is transferred from one point to another. XML is a cousin of HTML, which defines how data is displayed. The IEPDs are designed to let disparate systems talk to each other. “The IEPDs are a toolkit,” said Suzette McLeod, program manager for the IJIS Institute.
While a need to connect vendor systems clearly exists, vendors often are resistant to such efforts because they want to protect their proprietary products, said Neil Kurlander of the Central Station Alarm Association. “Vendors have vested interests they don’t want to lose hold of,” he said.
Nevertheless, in such situations, it’s crucial that public-safety officials prevent vendors from bullying them, according to Kurlander. “It’s not easy … chiefs often don’t possess the technical knowledge, so they feel at the mercy of the vendor,” he said. “So a lot of vendors push chiefs around.”
However, Kurlander added that chiefs possess one attribute that should be enough to get any vendor to bend to their will.
“Chiefs hold the power because they control the money,” Kurlander said. “Vendors eventually will do what you want or risk losing you to another vendor.”