National Data Architecture

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Site Overview

Welcome to the National Data Architecture (NDA) Site. The site presents a framework to structure, define and present national information sharing concepts, standards and technologies to assist specific stakeholder audiences: Decision-makers, Technology Managers and Information Architects. The framework assists these stakeholders to analyze the national state of information sharing environments and measure against the information sharing needs of their own agency environments, whether regional, state, tribal or local.

This site has two domains represented, Criminal Justice and Incident Management.

The site categories and subcategories are presented in the expandable tree structure below:


The framework starts with high-level domains and proceeds to decompose these into functional lines of business, operational capabilities, and information exchanges. Domain-specific categories and taxonomies are developed to organize these components and facilitate effective search and query. The site is based on the Mediawiki platform with flexible capabilities for drill-downs, semantic queries, and searches. This platform is well-known through Wikipedia so it provides familiar presentation and navigation via the sidebar links, page content and overall site searches.

There are several ways to navigate the site.

  • A drill-down capability through categories & subcategories;
  • Bi-directional linking through business processes, activities, documents, and services;
  • Search Capabilities.

Here is a Site Overview Video that provides a summary of the site and a walk-through of the navigation using the Justice domain.

NDA Strategic Objectives

The objective of the National Data Architecture initiative is primarily to provide a decision-making framework that enables justice and public safety executives, integration solution designers, and implementers to make effective and meaningful technology decisions. When faced with decisions about investing in and implementing initiatives to improve information sharing, stakeholders will be able to consult the architecture for guidance on making decisions that optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the resulting solutions. Note that information sharing solutions will likely involve implementing technology, but solutions could also involve policy changes, new funding mechanisms, changes to business processes, and organizational structure changes.

The National Data Architecture is guided by the Global Justice Information Sharing, the National Information Exchange Model, and open standards governance bodies including OASIS and the W3C for the Open Web.

The site currently contains frameworks for the National Justice Data Architecture (NJDA) and the National Incident Management Architecture (NIMA). Extensions to the framework infrastructure are possible for a National Health Data Architecture and National Maritime Data Architecture.

National Justice Data Architecture

The NJDA is organized around three views from the Planning, Operational, and Design perspectives. The framework is strongly influenced by the DOJ/DHS National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and the DOJ/BJA Global Reference Architecture (formerly the Justice Reference Architecture).

  • The Planning View will demonstrate for public safety and criminal justice executives, legislators, and national bodies how the information sharing environment will look nationally and assist in strategic planning. The Planning View provides navigation to page content to assist in assessing the criminal justice information sharing environment in terms of policies, initiatives, and technology standards or trends. Stakeholders and planners will want to assess their priority Criminal Justice Challenges, review Evidence-Based Research, and evaluate what Information Sharing Capabilities need to be strengthened or developed. Responsible information sharing requires policy mechanisms and legal authorities that encourage sharing, with appropriate safeguards, as well as a proven way to resolve legal and policy issues that may impede such sharing. Content will be provided as policies emerge and mature.
  • The Operational View will demonstrate for operational managers how the pieces fit together so they can make decisions about how and where information exchanges should occur. The Operational View presents business processes and models that are decomposed and bi-directionally linked with activities. The activities provide links to triggering activities, subsequent activities and associated documents. Chief Information Officers and Managers will want to develop and review their Business Process Models and to clarify where resources can best be invested, identify architecture platforms, and evaluate and recommend standards.
  • The Design View will assist technology architects to make decisions about systems and technologies that adopt and contribute to a standards-based national architecture. Architects will want to review services and service interaction models and the published Service Specification Packages and determine applicability to meet operational and strategic goals. Documents and Services are bi-drectionally linked, with services linking to Service Interaction Models.

National Incident Management Architecture

The NIMA is organized on the National Incident Management System and associated views based upon the National Planning Frameworks for Prevention, Protection, Response, Recovery and Mitigation.




Global Reference Architecture

The following is a synopsis of the GRA Framework Version 1.9.1.

The Global Reference Architecture (GRA) is designed to be an information sharing architecture that will meet the needs of government at all levels, and fulfill the need for improved collaboration across communities. The GRA is an information exchange solution designed to cut 80% of implementation time and costs for state and local justice agencies through reuse of established promising practices in IT architecture and design. To achieve this, the GRA is based on a policy-based decision to use a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach to extend the standardization of semantics of information exchanges beyond data content. Global decided early on to be in alignment with broader industry and vendor efforts within Open-Industry standards, key concepts, and leverage that work. While the work started with judicial processes, such as a court filing specification, participation has expanded to community services, first response, and health and human services. The approach emphasizes business value through agility and reuse, avoiding tight coupling and minimize solutions that include proprietary interfaces or application dependencies. The GRA is intended to be used in two specific circumstances:

  • For State/Local/Tribal/Territorial and Regional information sharing projects, it provides sets of documented best practices, standards, and techniques that have deployed solutions, as an 80% starting point to adapt to their particular needs, saving time and cost.
  • As a true reference architecture with underlying defined services, the GRA assembles data, transport, identity, and transformation standards into a deployable architecture.

A SOA implementation is not just an architecture of services seen from an information technology perspective, but rather a comprehensive framework. This framework includes policies, practices, and guidelines that ensure the right services are provided to satisfy business needs through exposing business capabilities. The SOA design paradigm is based on a set of design principles to ensure that a coherent set of services is assembled for a given business domain. The Global Reference Architecture (GRA), based on SOA, provides a set of service design principles for justice information sharing partners.