“Shared Vocabulary” in SOA

"Horizontal Future" by Peter A. Buxbaum, military-information-technology.com

What used to be known by the arcane terms of data taxonomy and ontology is now referred to as a “shared vocabulary,” according to Ken Pratt, chief architect at McDonald Bradley, which was the lead contractor on the horizontal fusion portfolio.

“Different organizations have different ways of describing information,” Pratt explained. “There must be 17 different ways to refer to an M-1 Abrams tank or an IED. By developing a shared vocabulary, communities of interest are able to describe the same thing in the same way.” This increases the relevance and reliability of data searches.

“We have long been proponents of paying attention to the data,” added Ken Bartee, chief executive officer of McDonald Bradley. “The network-centric strategy has little value to the warfighter in the field if the data layer is not usable.”

McDonald Bradley has brought 40 different defense data sources online, according to Bartee, who added, “But there are thousands are out there that are not online yet.”

Developing communities of interest involves bringing together different defense agencies that all deal with the same function or process, noted John Sutton, McDonald Bradley’s senior vice president for the Advanced Programs Group. Communities of interest can be of wide applicability, such as logistics or meteorology, or represent narrower areas as strike warfare, time-sensitive targeting and geospatial capabilities.

The shared vocabulary that results from the work of the communities of interest takes the form of metadata extensions to the core set of metadata set forth in the Defense Discovery Metadata Standard (DDMS). DDMS is a specification, which, along with various eXtensible Markup Language (XML) schema, is being implemented throughout DoD in order to tag electronic resource holdings.

“Tags represent the content of the resource like a card catalog,” Pratt explained. “Instead of searching through an entire document, you search the metadata instead. This makes for a more efficient search and lends itself to a higher fidelity result.”