ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Metadata Spec for Standards Information Nears Completion

Progress Report Featured at Interoperability Summit

New York, May 31, 2002

Can you imagine a standards environment where information is freely shared and easily accessible to everyone? An open, collaborative atmosphere where everyone knows the status of everyone else's projects, multiplying opportunities for the development of interoperable specifications and increasing the visibility of completed documents to potential end-users? Luckily, some folks have had this vision, and several months hence, their metadata specification will help to actualize this admirable ambition.

Formed last fall as a result of discussions between ANSI staff and industry experts during World Standards Week activities, the Standards Registry Committee (StdsReg) has been working on a metadata specification to promote the exchange of information between standards developing organizations (SDO), which would make more coherent and systematic information about these organizations' activities available to their peers and the general public.

Many standards registries listing SDOs and their documents already exist, but the information is currently stored in diverse ways. What the StdsReg committee members seek to develop is a common description or format for storing this data that will allow someone surfing the web for specific standards information to locate every relevant initiative currently in-progress or already completed. A later phase of the project will include developing a method to facilitate the connection of the various existing and future registries that can be accessed by a single query.

Committee chairman, Karl Best, director of technical operations at OASIS, an international not-for-profit consortium and host of the committee's website, said, "This project is about sharing information to increase the quality, value and adoption of standards by building a metadata specification that could be used by organizations wishing to make their standards registries more accessible to interested stakeholders." He indicated that a draft spec had been created with a final version several months away. When completed, it will be freely available to all organizations and registries to use in defining their work. The committee's goal is to make the metadata spec flexible enough to describe the work of most SDOs and simple enough to be implemented at very little cost.

Both OASIS and ANSI plan to implement the specification in their respective organizations. OASIS will use the metadata to catalog XML initiatives posted to the XML.org website. ANSI's Bob Hager, director of publishing and committee editor, indicated that the Institute would apply the specification to the NSSN: A National Resource for Global Standards. "The metadata standard will improve the efficient flow of information from national and international SDOs to the NSSN, thereby improving the accessibility and speed of updated information about standards activities," he explained. "In addition, it will greatly improve the efficiency of our aggregation and dissemination of standards in our industry and will therefore fulfill important requirements of the U.S. National Standards Strategy."

Best will discuss the status of the project and introduce the draft metadata specification at the upcoming Interoperability Summit on June 27-28, 2002 in Orlando, FL, which is co-sponsored by OASIS and several other consortia groups. He will also encourage summit participants to join the committee: "In order for the metadata to be useful, its design should include input from a broad cross-section of standards organizations." Anyone wishing to participate is invited to do so; simply subscribe to the StdsReg mailing list by sending an email with the word "subscribe" as the body of the message to stdsreg-request@lists.oasis-open.org.

"The idea is that by each organization sharing information other standards organizations can identify overlaps with what they are doing and make efforts to establish collaborative relationships," Best noted. "Doing so will reduce duplication and increase interoperability between specifications. Users and participants can discover what specifications are being developed and hence participate in standards development as well as adopt standards for their use."

For additional information on the StdsReg Committee, please contact Karl Best or Bob Hager.

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