Skip Navigation
Home » NCOIC Role in Technology » Role in Technology » Cross-Domain Interoperability

Cross-Domain Interoperability

The Rapidly Changing Nature of Domains

The Information Revolution has had an impact on social interaction and the creation of new information and social domains that did not exist 20 or 30 years ago. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks use technology to transfer vast amounts of information. This is a technical approach to creating social domains that exist in a cyber world versus the physical world.

The cyber and physical worlds do not exist as separate entities, they interact. The result is that the physical and cyber world are becoming characterized by increasing domain overlaps, and that phenomena is magnifying the effect of cross-domain influence and accelerating the speed of domain transformation. The domains themselves are shifting, integrating with other domains and morphing into new domains to achieve an ever-shifting objective; this activity may be frustrating to old-school program designers, but it is extremely efficient.

The Need for a Wider Perspective

We use the word “domain” to mean any collection of actors or entities that have a common mission or area of interest, which may be separated or defined by social, political, legal, financial, organizational or other boundaries. For a given event, there may be tens or hundreds of different domains that need to exchange information, and actors may belong to multiple domains.

There may be multiple subsets within a domain; for example, the aviation domain is very broad, and it includes smaller domains such as airports, air traffic control systems or even a single type of airplane. There is a great deal of technology used to enable aviation and hundreds of systems support the domain and its component functions.

Individuals and organizations utilize information from many domains to make decisions. Better decisions are made when the influence of all contributing domains and information is considered.  In a world where domains are overlapping, shifting and morphing at an ever-increasing pace, a system designed for a single function or domain is almost always a failure; it must be either modified to support other domains or scrapped to make way for a replacement system.  There is a need for taking a wider perspective – a perspective that achieves cross-domain interoperability.

Making Cross-Domain Interoperability a Reality

Cross-domain interoperability refers to the ability of systems and organizations to interact and exchange information (inter-operate) among different areas, markets, industries, countries or communities of interest (domains). When cross-domain interoperability exists, it means that users can seamlessly communicate and conduct activity, despite their reliance on different technical environments or frameworks.

An example of cross-domain interoperability is the exchange of critical information in a disaster situation so all responding organizations can effectively communicate and coordinate their actions to meet their mission objectives. For example, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, hospitals, law enforcement, non-governmental aid organizations, local and state emergency planning departments, military and federal agencies can exchange information on the number and location of the injured, status of roads, hospital beds, airports, security threats, location of resources, etc. Each group collects and disseminates critical information into an information “cloud” for use by the other groups and, at the same time, also accesses relevant information sources for correlated data that will assist them in their disaster-response role. 

NCOIC was founded on the principle that systems need an inherent interoperable framework to extend value to the enterprise, developer and customer. This has become more important with the changing nature of domains, as systems frequently interoperate with, and often rely on, other systems in other domains that they do not control.

NCOIC, because of the diverse nature of its 55+ members and affiliates representing 12 countries, including representatives of both domestic and international government agencies and industry leaders, is uniquely geared to provide the wider cross-domain interoperability perspective.  Unlike other organizations -- including government agencies and individual companies whose business model and expertise are focused on a limited set of the total domains involved -- NCOIC has the advantage of a broader set of expertise from across industry and government. That broader spectrum is inherent in the nature of its membership, affiliates and advisors. NCOIC works across domains to understand corporate, political and technical barriers; it puts in place the standards, processes, patterns and frameworks needed to enable interoperable networks for greater communication, collaboration and awareness.