North America Day Collaboration Strengthens Public Health and SafetyPosted by David L. McClure, GSA Associate Administrator on Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Responsible information sharing continues to be a top priority in our government, and recently it is has received considerable trans-national attention, as well. At the end of August, the CIOs of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, met at the North America Day 2012 Summit in Williamsburg, VA, with other senior IT officials from each country. Since 2001, North America Day has brought together government leaders from these three countries to discuss, in a trusted environment, important technology issues of common concern among the three countries.
The theme of this year’s talks was Building Innovation into Digital Government. We discussed digital government strategies, best practices in innovation, open government and open data, shared services, and cybersecurity. Attendees included, among others:
- Corinne Charette, Canada CIO
- Carlos Viniegra Beltran, Mexico’s CIO and Head of the Digital Government Unit, Ministry of Public Administration (SFP)
- Steven VanRoekel, U.S. Federal CIO
- Richard Spires, CIO, Department of Homeland Security and Vice-chair, Federal CIO Council
- Frank Baitman, CIO, Department of Health and Human Services
- Kshemendra Paul, Program Manager, Information-Sharing Environment, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Executive Director, North America Day Projects
- Donna Roy, Executive Director, NIEM Program Office, Department of Homeland Security and Deputy Director, North America Day Projects
- Michael Nowlin, Chief Enterprise Architect, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Project Lead, Public Health Project
- Rosanna Di Paola, Chief Information Officer, Public Safety Canada, and Project Lead, Public Safety project.
Trilateral public health and safety pilot projects
We spent valuable time discussing the results of two trilateral pilot projects for information exchange, which I introduced on this blog last year.
At last year’s North America Day discussions, the three countries signed a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding and established information-sharing pilot projects to exchange test data for public health alerts and stolen vehicle information. The trilateral working groups responsible for implementing the pilot exchanges provided updates at this year’s talks:
- Public Safety Pilot: The goal of this pilot project was to test exchanges of stolen vehicle information among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico using the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). To date, the trilateral working group has conducted a technical demonstration and exchange between the U.S. and Canada. We expect exchanges with Mexico to be completed soon.
- Public Health Pilot: This pilot project’s goal was to test an exchange of aggregated public health alerts for food-borne infectious diseases between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico using NIEM. The working group has demonstrated an exchange of real-time, aggregated public health alerts among the three countries. They are currently documenting their processes and lessons learned for future exchanges of this type for the public health community and plan to share the NIEM IEPD with the World Health Organization. The working group has also started to outline a roadmap for moving from a pilot/test environment to full production.
We reaffirmed our commitment to these pilot projects and agreed to explore approaches for scaling them up and moving them from pilot to production phases (i.e., to begin sharing real data in real time).
At North America Day, we explored some options for future collaboration that are extremely exciting. The list includes an Open Government platform (OGPL) adoption/participation by Canada and Mexico that builds on the work of the U.S. and India; ideas for accelerating some U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border projects by extending them to include Mexico, where applicable; and best practices in the three countries’ identity management and authentication programs. In every case, effective data sharing intersects with strong data reference architecture, open APIs, and meta-data tagging. We also agreed to a potential new pilot, based on NIEM, to share missing children/Amber Alerts among the three countries.
There is huge potential for additional wins in delivering real data exchanges that are focused on critical mission services and capabilities. We plan to leverage the existing connectivity, processes, and framework developed in the two initial pilots in the areas outlined above.