Standard data model

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A standard data model or industry standard data model (ISDM) is a data model that is widely applied in some industry, and shared amongst competitors to some degree. They are often defined by standards bodies, database vendors or operating system vendors.

When in use, they enable easier and faster information sharing because heterogeneous organizations have a standard vocabulary and pre-negotiated semantics, format, and quality standards for exchanged data. The standardization affects software architecture as solutions that vary from the standard may cause data sharing issues and problems if data is out of compliance with the standard.

The more effective standard models have developed in the banking, insurance, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, to reflect the stringent standards applied to customer information gathering, customer privacy, consumer safety, or just in time manufacturing.

Typically these use the popular relational model of database management, but some use the hierarchical model, especially those used in manufacturing or mandated by governments, e.g., the DIN codes specified by Germany. While the format of the standard may have implementation trade-offs, the underlying goal of these standards is to make sharing of data easier.

The most complex data models known are in military use, and consortia such as NATO tend to require strict standards of their members' equipment and supply databases. However, they typically do not share these with non-NATO competitors, and so calling these 'standard' in the same sense as commercial software is probably not very appropriate.

An emerging area of standard data model is in the identity card arena, where a vast number of security engineering solutions for public spaces, e.g., airports, other public transport, hospitals, are expected soon to rely on a standard data model for identifying the card holder/user of the facility. This may contain biometric information or other data that would be standardized across an entire trade bloc, e.g., the European Union or the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This raises many privacy and carceral state concerns. These are discussed more deeply in an article on standard user models.

Example Standard Data Models[edit]

  • ISO 10303 CAE Data Exchange Standard - includes its own data modelling language, EXPRESS
  • ISO 15926 Process Plants including Oil and Gas facilities Life-Cycle data
  • IDEAS Group Foundation Ontology agreed by defence departments of Australia, Canada, France, Sweden, UK and USA
  • Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) is a data dictionary sponsored by the US government that is used widely in the United States education vertical
  • SIF is an interoperability specification used as a standard data model in Australia, the UK, and the US.


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