Taxonomies as a Tool to Increase Discovery of Intelligence Community Data Assets

Dr. Marcie Zaharee currently works in the MITRE Corporation’s Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems, where she is the lead for developing a controlled vocabulary, taxonomy, and thesaurus for the intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) community.

On May 9, 2003, then DoD Chief Information Officer (CIO) John Stenbit signed the memorandum that established the DoD Net-Centric Data Strategy (herein referred to simply as the data strategy). The DoD, the IC, and the Services then issued instructions that defined implementation and compliance. To accomplish the strategy’s goals of promoting data visibility, accessibility, and understandability for Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) data, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD(I)) funded the NGA-DCGS Metadata Harmonization (MDH) project in October 2006. This effort created a path toward implementation of the data strategy in the ISR domain. The MDH team focused on sharing ISR data between the NGA and DCGS communities.

The MDH team recognized the need for controlled vocabularies to describe terms unique to the ISR domain and provide understandability for ISR metadata. In 2013 the team completed 12 taxonomies for ISR ground, maritime, airborne, and space-based platforms and sensors and posted them on a metadata registry in a machine-readable format, Web Ontology Language (OWL) to share with communities of interest.

The MDH team documented the ISR operations taxonomy development process in a technical report entitled “Framework for Developing an ISR Operations Taxonomy”. The report describes a repeatable framework for building a shared ISR Operations taxonomy and on the development approach, findings, and nine key lessons learned. The findings suggest that an ISR Operations taxonomy can be built, exported, and shared with the DoD and intelligence communities in a format that both users and systems can understand, and that the taxonomy can serve as an aid in populating metadata fields to increase discovery of data assets.

This 2014 Data Harmony User Group meeting (DHUG) presentation shows how the MITRE Corporation used Data Harmony Thesaurus Master as a taxonomy management tool and highlights nine lessons learned from the effort.