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The term "information sharing" gained popularity as a result of the 9/11 Commission Hearings and its report of the United States government's lack of response to information known about the planned terrorist attack on the New York City World Trade Center prior to the event. The resulting commission report led to the enactment of several executive orders by President Bush that mandated agencies implement policies to "share information" across organizational boundaries. In addition, an Information Sharing Environment Program Manager (PM-ISE) was appointed, tasked to implement the provisions of the Intelligence Reform and Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2004. In making recommendation toward the creation of an "Information Sharing Environment" the 9/11 Commission based itself on the findings and recommendations made by the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age.
The term "information sharing" in the information technology lexicon has a long history. Traditional information sharing referred to one-to-one exchanges of data between a sender and receiver. These information exchanges are implemented via dozens of open and proprietary protocols, message and file formats. Electronic data interchange ("EDI") is a successful implementation of commercial data exchanges that began in the late 1970s and remains in use today.
From the point of view of a computer scientist, the four primary information sharing design patterns are sharing information one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, and many-to-one. Technologies to meet all four of these design patterns are evolving and include blogs, wikis, really simple syndication, tagging, and chat.
One example of United States government's attempt to implement one of these design patterns (one to one) is the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). Unfortunately, one-to-one exchange models fall short of supporting all of the required design patterns needed to fully implement data exploitation technology.
As technology advances, information sharing platforms will provide controlled vocabularies, data harmonization, data stewardship policies and guidelines, standards for uniform data as they relate to privacy, security, and data quality.