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AIRS XML Data Transfer Standards. Sharing Resource Data with Ease in a Multiple Vendor I & R Database World. Carolyn S. Keyser NY. Workshop Objectives. What are the AIRS XML Data Transfer Standards? What are the goals of these standards? How will I & R benefit from these standards?.

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Airs xml data transfer standards

AIRS XML Data Transfer Standards

Sharing Resource Data with Ease in a Multiple Vendor I & R Database World

Carolyn S. Keyser


Workshop objectives
Workshop Objectives

  • What are the AIRS XML Data Transfer Standards?

  • What are the goals of these standards?

  • How will I & R benefit from these standards?

Problem statement
Problem Statement

  • Multiple vendor solutions with disparate data formats

  • Refer

  • IRis

  • Tapestry

  • Service Point

  • Resource House

  • Custom Solutions

  • Other I & R Applications

  • Lack of interoperability among database applications


Current system discourages data sharing.

The current state of i r systems




The Current State of I & R Systems

Disparate Applications Lacking Interoperability

 Discourages Data Exchange and Sharing

Does this problem have a solution

Does This Problem Have a Solution?


The AIRS XML Data Transfer Standards

What is xml
What Is XML?

  • XML stands for EXtensible Markup Language

    • Extensible: No pre-defined fixed format

      • Able to design your own markup language tags

      • In contrast, HTML is an example that does have a pre-defined format

    • Markup Language: Method of providing structure to a document

      • HTML is designed to display data

      • XML is designed to describe and structure data; provide information about the data

  • Human-readable, plain text file  Easy to understand

  • Platform independent (hardware and software independent)

    • Enables sharing of data among incompatible systems

    • Has lead to the wide-use of XML as a tool for facilitating data exchange

An example xml document

An Example XML Document

<?xml version=“1.0” encoding=“UTF-8”?>


<Name>The Career Place</Name>

<Address>31 Main St</Address>





<Phone>(585) 555-5555</Phone>

<Description>Provides training in job searching, résumé preparation, and interview skills.</Description>

<Hours>M-F 9:00am – 5:00pm.</Hours>


How does xml facilitate interoperability

<?xml version=“1.0”?>


XML File





Do these two XML files have the same data format and structure?

<?xml version=“1.0”?>


XML File


How Does XML Facilitate Interoperability?

What happens when a standard format for xml export files does not exist
What happens when a standard format for XML export files does not exist?

  • If each vendor application formats the data in an XML export file differently, then an application would have to include programming logic that accommodates each unique format for data exchange to be possible among the disparate vendor applications.

<?xml version=“1.0”?>

<?xml version=“1.0”?>


XML File


XML File


No significant reduction in the complexities of data sharing.

Dissimilar Data Formats

The necessity of standards
The Necessity of Standards does not exist?

  • Question: How can we ensure that the resulting XML files from each vendor application share the same format?

  • Answer:Adopt a universal formatting standard for sharing data, which each vendor implements.

    • Regardless of the vendor application, an XML export file will have the same data format.

    • Vendors need only develop programming logic to handle this one standard format.

  • Question: What tool can we use to specify these standards?

  • Answer: XML Schema

Xml schema
XML Schema does not exist?

  • An XML Schema defines the structure and format of an XML Document.

  • An XML Schema specifies:

    • Allowable and/or required elements and attributes.

    • The ordering of elements (parent-child relationships)

    • The number of occurrences of an element.

    • Element and attribute data types.

    • Default or fixed values for elements or attributes.

    • For a complete description, see the handout Resources for Additional Information.

  • An XML Schema is also referred to as XSD (XML Schema Definition).

  • Systems that have been programmed to recognize the standards specified in the XSD will be able to automatically understand and process information received in this format.

Airs xml data standards workgroup
AIRS XML Data Standards Workgroup does not exist?

Mission Statement Summary

“The Data Standards Workgroup will develop specific standards for ensuring the quality and consistency of resource databases maintained by information and referral (I&R) services, specifically to facilitate importing, exporting and merging of data….”

The AIRS XML Schema specifies these standards. Vendor implementation of this schema will facilitate exchange of data and application interoperability.

Airs xml data standards workgroup1
AIRS XML Data Standards Workgroup does not exist?


  • 2002: The Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) received a grant to formulate standards for facilitating information exchange using XML.

  • 2003: AIRS Workgroup was formed to review and recommend changes to the Standards created by the MAUW.

  • 2004: Version 2.0 of the AIRS XSD was approved by the AIRS Board.

  • 2006-08: AIRS XSD Review Group contracted with data architects from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and reviewed the AIRS XSD, involving I&R vendors at every junction in order to create a more stable structure. In May 2008, the AIRS Board approved of Version 3.0 of the AIRS XSD.

Airs xml data standards structural overview
AIRS XML Data Standards does not exist?Structural Overview

Benefits of xml standards adoption
Benefits of XML Standards Adoption does not exist?

  • Provides a tool for facilitating data exchange among disparate systems.

  • Promotes data sharing between I & R’s, as well as information exchange with other human services agencies.

  • Data sharing eliminates duplication of efforts.

  • I & R’s can choose applications that best meet the needs of their agency and those they serve, while maintaining the ability to share data with agencies using other applications. Avoids vendor lock in.

Benefits of xml standards continued
Benefits of XML Standards (Continued) does not exist?

  • Ability to share data while retaining investments in current infrastructure and systems.  Avoid training, labor, software, and hardware costs, as well as user frustration, associated with migrating to new solutions.

  • Improved quality control, e.g. data quality.

  • Extensibility – Allows for scalability and flexibility to meet changing needs over time. Changes can be made more cost effectively.

  • XML Standards allow information to be easily ported to different platforms, such as PDA’s or cell phones.

  • Format is compatible for use with internet protocols for data exchange between systems.

What s the bottom line
What’s the Bottom Line? does not exist?

Our communities benefit from improved service.

An alternative

The Drawback of Standards Adoption does not exist?

An Alternative

  • Initial cost of implementation for vendors.

Choose one application for region-wide or state-wide use.

Costs associated with buying, implementing, and learning a new technology.

Removes consumer choice. Agencies cannot choose the application that best meets their needs.

Eliminates benefits of competition.

Areas where data sharing interoperability enhance i r
Areas Where Data Sharing & Interoperability Enhance I & R does not exist?

  • 2-1-1: Regional and state-wide data sharing.

  • Disasters: Ease of transferring data to another call center, when necessary. Live updates can be immediately distributed to resource databases, regardless of the vendor application.

  • Community collaboration: HMIS, Continuum of Care (CoC) Systems, Community Information Systems. Objective:Reduction of duplicated efforts.

  • Ability to aggregate information from heterogeneous sources enables more comprehensive reporting.

Is this realistic

Yes! does not exist?

Is This Realistic?

Some “Real Life” Examples:

  • SIF (Schools Interoperability Framework)

    • Goal: “The goal of SIF is to make it possible for school administrators, teachers and other school personnel to have secure, appropriate access to the most current and accurate data available.” –Quoted from the SIF Web Site:

  • CAP (Common Alerting Protocol)

    • Goal: Improving emergency management information dissemination nationwide

    • Description: Open, non-proprietary standard data format for exchange of alerts, hazard warnings, and reports

    • &

  • RecML (Recreation Markup Language)

    • Goal: The exchange of recreational information among agencies nationwide.


And yes
And yes,…… does not exist?

There’s even a

Meat and Poultry XML (mpXML)

(Wegmans is one of the founders!)

How you can help
How You Can Help does not exist?

  • Talk to your vendors. Make sure they are aware of your needs. Remind them that our clients deserve the best services possible. Implementation by our vendors shows their continued commitment to improving I & R Services.

For additional information
For Additional Information does not exist?

  • General XML Information:


    • Tutorial:

    • W3C XML Specification:

    • What is XML? From TechSoup

  • Standards Efforts in Other Industries and Fields: