Proof of Concept: Public Healthcare Preparedness Portal for the New York Academy of Medicine (nyam) Featuring the Common Alerting Protocol)

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Incubating New Kinds of Collaborations with

Emerging XML and RDF Technologies

(Proof of Concept: Public Healthcare Preparedness Portal for the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) - Featuring the Common Alerting Protocol)


Based on the title, this topic seems more complex than it actually is. When we look at its parts, these are relatively simple and the concept presented is not very complex. It is dependent on a several connections among these component parts, much as all collaborations are.

When we say "Incubating" we mean that we are providing conditions for growth and development of new kinds of collaborations. These new kinds of collaborations are being brought together by what are called "Communities of Interest" and "Communities of Practice." These communities are based on shared context such as similar information-processing, records-keeping tasks, or government-wide mandates to improve performance and responsiveness to citizens' needs. Similar data, such as employee performance evaluations in different companies or government agencies, as well as similar methods for the intake of customers' or citizens' information, cut across intellectual, economic, social, business and governmental boundaries, jurisdictions or other divisions between categories. In a nutshell, these new types of collaborations come together on the basis of shared contexts.

Many of these collaborations are due to increasing acceptance and adoption of several emerging technologies which have been developed or are developing into standards based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF). XML and RDF standards have been developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and approved for use by many national and international information technology standards bodies.

Based on common document types, from purchase orders and returned merchandise forms to feedback forms to gauge customer satisfaction, most of these documents share process-specific information types found in a range of documents such as Social Security Claims or Employment Application Forms. Common documents can be described in standard ways and responded to with standard means, so Communities of Interest and/or Practice arise where these similarities are identified. The benefits of such standardization are becoming more commonly accepted and well known. Costs are reduced and satisfaction increased, while processes take place in less time.

XML provides the means to standardize specific terminologies or vocabularies, known in digital computer information systems as "languages," such as Mathematics Markup Language (MML), Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This means that XML is a meta-language; a language about such languages; a language to use for building these specific languages. This enables creation of structured vocabularies, thesauri, and data dictionaries and databases for pre-existing, legacy computer systems with their legacy programs, languages and content. Thus XML aids in preserving the body of work that has accumulated since computing machines and systems came into widespread use and as they have been refined and improved. These languages have been and are being formulated into standards by specific Communities of Interest and/or Practice. The goals of these efforts are to create domains of digital information and knowledge which can be interoperable with each other and with other languages based on the rules and processes of XML and RDF.

RDF provides the means to connect specific resources to a use or uses of a specific term, set of terms or a specific language, through a kind of grammar. These resources include legacy databases, libraries of associated information, libraries of standard symbols, data specifications, and single specific documents. Applications can be created using those resources directly or as references. RDF makes resources available for use with the terms defined by XML. It is this connection by which a large variety of applications, using the same terminology, vocabulary, and or language for the same datatypes can be assembled. There is a great potential reservoir of useful resources waiting to be tapped. This facility is the basis upon which the "Semantic Web" continues to develop.

What Human Markup Languages can deliver are inference engines, processing rules, etc; binding XML and RDF together through a common methodology. When we say "can" we mean it is possible, but by no means guaranteed. HumanML needs more participants to expand the work it does. We want to be clear that while HumanML has great potential, it is, for now, potential. We portray HumanML honestly. It is not yet well developed, because, in fact, we have only made the best start we can. However, the fact that we have made this beginning is the significant fact we want our audience to take away from this presentation. We are in place and ready to move on to the next stage of development.

Briefly, our "Proof of Concept" is offered as a way to show how one of these new kinds of collaborations, brought together by the human work of the HumanMarkup effort, shows a tangible project that is concrete, delivers a definite benefit and is reasonably simple. This is meant to show how the work of standards groups can bring together the fruits of diverse efforts to achieve clearly beneficial purposes.

In our case, we are leveraging work in progress by the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) in its Public Healthcare Preparedness Resource Guide ( ). We showcase it within an implementation of the newly approved OASIS standard Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP). This standard was created by the OASIS WSRP Technical Committee (WSRP TC) over the last two years.

Our demonstration features the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), formulated by the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee (EM TC). Please note that CAP is at the "Committee Draft" stage in the TC process. This means that it is being tested and evaluated in a public review in preparation for submission to OASIS for an approval vote as a standard.

We will also point out where in our example the Human Markup Language will be useful for providing additional functionality through these emerging technologies as they develop in parallel timeframes. When we say it "will" be useful, this refers to the fact that we are actively recruiting for participants (e.g., businesses, organizations, individuals, etc.) who can work on crafting the language modules for these specific use areas.

General Notes on Terminology:

HumanML: General abbreviation for entire set of Human Markup Language specifications.

ML: General abbreviation for Markup Language.

HPCDML: Human Markup Physical Characteristics Description Markup Language, a superset for HumanML for markup of human anatomy, physiology, morphometrics, and biomechanics.

Huml: The name of the 'root' XML Schema Element of the Human Markup Language Primary Base XML Schema Specification (and, therefore, of the entire set of HumanML).

huml: The namespace prefix which identifies the HumanML namespace; also the abbreviation for the OASIS HumanMarkup Technical Committee.

Using HumanML to Release the Potential of Human Capital

We use the term "Human Capital" to represent the "value of human knowledge." By this we mean the value of knowledge in an individual's mind and experience. We also use it for the value of the sum of knowledge in a group. It is a handy abstraction for a concept that is difficult to measure, and should be taken as such. It is a way to get a figurative grip on the concept of human "knowledge as capital" in such a way that it can be recognized as an entity in and of itself. It is useful for drawing a number conclusions about the usefulness of a "Human Markup Language" such as we are building. There are several apparent "facts" or observations which underscore the need for efforts such as building HumanML and developing Knowledge Management to a greater extent:

  • A majority of Human Capital and most of the personal "knowledge" of humanity is locked up in the heads of individuals.

  • The "Soft" sciences that study humans and human society lack a well-accepted, solid foundation in an agreed-upon, experimentally repeatable, quantifiably empirical methodology, (including Psychology, Sociology and to a lesser extent the more introspective, philosophically or phenomenologically-based aspects of Anthropology and Archaeology).

  • As much as or more than 90 percent of the sum total of "Hard" Human Knowledge in the Physical Sciences and associated technologies has been produced within the last 20 years of the 20th Century.

  • Worldwide social needs are growing and require attention as the disparity between the affluent and developing worlds widens.

  • The technological innovations related to the establishment and growth of the Internet are set to spread throughout the developing world in a revolution as dramatic as that in which the Internet came into being.

When taken together, these facts describe a situation that calls for remedies to provide a better empirical basis for the sciences that study humanity and human society in order to address, for example, rampant poverty, and also prevent potential crises greater than we face now. The Organization for Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) HumanMarkup Technical Committee (HumanMarkup TC) has adopted a structure for developing this family of languages. We have produced a Requirements Document and a Primary Base XML Schema Specification which is largely a collection of categories for information. This structure has been designed to be used in subsequent language modules, which will be subsets or supersets of the base, specific to application areas that have been identified by the individuals interested in developing applications in those areas.

We plan to construct a Secondary Base Schema of terms necessary to building Application Area-Specific Secondary Schemata compiled from the work of the subcommittees self-selected for the purpose of building those markup languages (MLs).

In addition, each XML Schema will be accompanied by at least one RDF Schema and may have more RDF schemata, completing a set. This design allows both the XML and RDF components to be modified by additions or deletions over time as the Human Markup Language evolves.

This method of selection for who will create these language modules forms a model for the overall development of the Human Markup Language. In this we mean that we wish to encourage participation by interested parties to ensure that the cultural description modules are created by members of the groups being represented in the description. We do this to provide a logical means to assure creation of the most accurate domain-specific descriptions. Similarly, we wish to encourage the creation of culture-specific modules by members and speakers of the relevant cultural/linguistic groups, but also in consultation with qualified professionals, e.g., cultural anthropologists. This is intended to directly tap the kind of Human Capital we have described.

References on Human Capital Concepts: See Appendix B

HumanML Application Triad

The OASIS HumanMarkup Technical Committee originally projected three subcommittee foci:

  • Physical description, now realized in the official Human Physical Characteristics Description Markup Language Subcommittee (HPCDML SC).

  • Virtual-Reality and Artificial Intelligence (VR-AI), now being realized in the Cognition in Environments (CogEnv) group work.

  • Diplomacy, now being organized as Mediation work.

Each of these constitute an arm of expansion of the Human Markup Language Primary Base XML Schema Specification: huml-primary-base-1.0.xsd which is available at the following URL committees/documents.php?wg_abbrev=humanmarkup

and is directed toward providing a standard vocabulary useful for building applications of the Human Markup Language.

Human Physical Characteristics Description Markup Language (HPCDML)

The HPCDML Subcommittee is chaired by Rex Brooks. Its Charter states:

HPCDML will be designed to provide standardized descriptions of physical characteristics of humans, with specific responsibility to harmonize and interoperate with widely accepted Public-Health, Medical, Biometric, Human-Modeling and Public Safety standards.

The entire Charter-Mission Statement can be downloaded at:

The OASIS Human Markup Language Technical Committee, Human Physical Characteristics Description Markup Language (HPCDML) Subcommittee (HPCDML SC) is comprised of various professionals from industry and academia. The development of the underlying conceptual framework of HPCDML has been significantly influenced by the work of Dr. Norm Badler, Ph.D.,Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Human Modeling and Simulation, (see and and Sandy Ressler, NIST, (see and The HPCDML SC is currently seeking new members to participate as representatives of the communities of interest related to Human Anatomy and Physiology, Biometrics, Biomechanics, Morphometrics, Medical Informatics, Archaeology, Biological, Cultural, and Linguistic Anthropology, Public Health, Public Safety, Education/Training, and Human Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.

In addition to HPCDML subcommittee members, HPCDML is being developed in collaboration with the Archaeology Technologies Laboratory, (ATL) North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, North Dakota, USA (see The ATL collaborates with the following organizations and institutions, and each of these also have related affiliations and collaborations at regional, national, and international levels. Each of these research units have also formally expressed support for and interest in HumanML and HPCDML, with particular intent to participate in development of crosswalks and related markup language compatibility and toward achieving semantic interoperability of the corpus:

Crosswalks are mappings of relationships between organized information systems or metadata schema that use different structured vocabularies or classifications systems to define terminology used within the system or schema. Crosswalks therefore enable interoperability between different schemas. See, for example, “Rule Based Metadata Crosswalks Using RDF.” (Brickley 1998; and “XML DTD for the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set: The use of XML as a transfer syntax for museum records during the CIMI Dublin Core test bed some practical experiences.” (Drenth 2000;

Projects developing use cases and applications for, and crosswalks with, HPCDML:

ATL’s Digital Archive Network for Anthropology and World Heritage (DANA-WH; see, a National Science Digital Library (NSDL; see is a digital collection of human cultural and biological heritage resources for use in scholarly research and education. DANA-WH is comprised of four primary components: an Archaeology Collection, a Biological Anthropology Collection (BAC), an Ethnography Collection, and a Linguistics Collection. A significant aspect of DANA-WH is a downloadable DANA-WH Client. In addition to inclusion of two-dimensional (2D) graphical images, it also facilitates display of accurate, manipulable, and measurable three dimensional (3D) digital surrogates (3D models of material culture objects, e.g., artifacts and museum objects) and biological materials (e.g., skeletal and fossil remains). HumanML and HPCDML will be used in each of these components as appropriate, with initial emphasis on the BAC component specifically for markup of human/hominoid (Primates) taxonomy and skeletal and musculoskeletal biomechanics. Similarly HPCDML will be used in markup of 3D models of fossils and skeletal materials and animation (e.g., virtual avatar simulations of hominids such as in the Neanderthal Hand project; see below). This project involves development of supersets and subsets of HumanML and HPCDML, with emphasis on markup for human cultural and biological heritage. Initial markup development foci include anatomical and taxonomic markup for primates, i.e., humans, ancestral humans (e.g., Homo erectus, H. habilis), and other fossil hominids (e.g., Australopithecines), as well as extinct and living apes and monkeys.  Part of the DANA-WH development program is to create an Anthropology Markup Language (AnthML). This will involve broader collaboration beyond the HumanML and HPCDML team activities, with other markup initiatives, such as the Anatomical Markup Language (AnatML) and the Digital Anatomist Foundational Model for Anatomy (FMA) and the Skeletal eXtensible Markup Language (SXML; see details below) The scope of AnthML extends beyond the sub fields of anthropology (archaeology, linguistics, cultural, and biological anthropology) to include domains such as classical archaeology and classical studies, history (including various sub fields), architectural history, geography, and other facets of cultural and biological heritage.  As the ATL proceeds in this and other projects, the roles and use cases for HumanML and HPCDML have increased. Similarly, due to the enlarged scope of AnthML, successful development and implementation will require widespread collaboration across a variety of domains and fields.

ATL’s Native Dancer (ND), a Diabetes Intervention and Healthcare Management Video Game (see is a multifaceted intervention health management project that is designed to lower the high risk of Native American youth for contracting Diabetes Type 2. The Native Dancer Diabetes Education Video Game is supported by the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council. Native Dancer was taken up by the ATL as part of its cultural preservation mission because of the project's potential for preserving and teaching the value of powwow dancing to Native American children. The project is being developed in close cooperation with White Earth Tribal Council Health Services and the White Earth Diabetes Program. Native Dancer is a diabetes education and exercise computer game designed to be culturally relevant to native youth. Unlike traditional video games that encourage sedentary behavior and physical inactivity, Native Dancer will incorporate the emerging genre of video games that involve physical exercise. An example of this is the famous game, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), made by Konami of Japan (see:

There is an epidemic of Type 2, Adult-Onset diabetes occurring worldwide, but industrializing countries and disadvantaged populations in industrialized countries have the highest prevalence and show the largest increases. In the United States, Native American peoples are afflicted by this disease in ever increasing numbers. Cross-cultural miscommunication between patients and healthcare professionals often inhibit the adoption of healthier behaviors. HumanML and HPCDML will play an integral role in development of Native Dancer, with emphasis on creating a virtual powwow judging engine for comparison of live dancers to the powwow dancer avatars in the game. Critical to this aspect of the project is design of full body motion capture and tracking hardware and software. Rob Nixon, a HumanMLTC and HPCDML SC member, CTO of Quantum Digital Arts, a MOCAP and Synthetic Intelligence software development firm, in collaboration with ATL will develop a Human Motion Modeling and Motion Recognition engine employing HumanML and HPCDML to predict as well as compare motions of the humanoid powwow avatars to the motions of live dancers competing in the game.

Virtual Hominid Body Reconstructions: The Neanderthal Hand Project. The ATL in collaboration with Dr. Wesley Niewoehner, an anthropologist at the California State University San Bernardino have begun a project to virtually reconstruct and animate the La Ferrasie specimen, a fossilized Neanderthal skeleton, beginning first with the hand bones (see Niewoehner et al. 2003 and As with the other projects, HumanML and HPCDML will play a critical role in development of the virtual reconstructions, for markup of the biomechanics as well as the musculoskeletal anatomy for use in comparison of the Neanderthal hand to the hand of anatomically modern Homo sapiens. Through such comparative research the extent of manual dexterity of Neanderthal can be compared to modern humans. Preliminary results, based on reconstruction of the thumb and forefinger indicate there is likelihood that Neanderthal was as nimble-fingered as modern humans.

Joint PRISM-ATL collaboration to develop the Primate 3D OsteoKnowledgeBase Schema (3DOKBS), a proposed NSDL project. The 3DOKBS project includes the development of the Skeletal eXtensible Markup Language (SXML) which will be developed in tandem with the HPCDML, and mapped with the BIAU’s AnatML to assure conformance and interoperability across markup languages. This proposed project intends to develop a new OsteoKnowledgeBase infrastructure of data structures, algorithms and software tools for geometric representation, feature segmentation, intelligent archiving of relevant data, visual query based retrieval, and computer assisted “smart” analysis of 3D osteological data in a federation for online sharing of data among biologists. This project will enable and extend biological research by providing simple, intuitive access to powerful geometric and mathematical modeling, archiving, query and analysis tools from computer science, and other disciplines for quantification and analysis of osteologic specimens. The project will also research and incorporate relevant emerging standards to develop a theoretical framework and practical tools for 3D data and metadata standards for 3D osteodata. The resulting 3D OsteoKnowledgeBase will create a foundation for establishing standards for data storage, retrieval, and interaction that will significantly extend and expand biological research capabilities. An example of this research is described in Tocheri et al. 2003 (see ). See further discussion on crosswalks and semantic interoperability below.

UW’s Digital Anatomist Project, the Foundational Model for Anatomy (FMA), an ontology for biomedicine and medical informatics (see The FMA is an integral component of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Visible Human Project and the NLM’s Unified Medical Language System (UMLS), and is developed in collaboration with researchers at top institutions in the US and elsewhere. As stated on the Digital Anatomist project web site ( the goals of the project are:

The long term goal of the Digital Anatomist project is implementation of an anatomy information system that is available from any desktop computer that has access to the network. The development of this system is driven by the needs of students learning anatomy, but the system has now evolved to a state where it is used by clinicians as well. A user of the information system should be able to query the knowledge base for specific anatomic questions, to retrieve dynamically generated 3-D scenes illustrating answers to the query, and to use the retrieved information as the basis for queries of related databases and image repositories available on the network. Such an information system requires many modules including visual databases, 3-D modeling, real-time rendering, virtual reality and others. As in all our applications, the approach to meeting these requirements is an incremental one. See further discussion on crosswalks and semantic interoperability below. [FMA 2003].

The BIAU’s Anatomical Markup Language (AnatML) is a markup language developed at BIAU ( AnatML was developed as part of the Physiome Project, a bioinformatics initiative involving researchers from around the globe and developed in affiliation with the FMA. The HumanML TC and HPCDML SC, ATL, and PRISM teams are working closely with the BIAU team on development of crosswalks with AnatML to assure standards conformance and semantic interoperability between AnatML and HumanML, HPCDML, AnthML, SXML, and the FMA, with emphasis on skeletal and musculoskeletal anatomical markup.

Relationships between HumanML, HPCDML, DANA-WH (AnthML), 3DOKBS (SXML), AnatML, CIDOC CRM, and the FMA.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) International Committee for Documentation (CIDOC) Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) provides an ontology for the management of cultural heritage resource collections; it comprises definitions and a formal structure for describing the implicit and explicit concepts and relationships used in cultural heritage documentation (see for details). The CIDOC CRM is intended to promote a shared understanding of cultural heritage information by providing a common and extensible semantic framework to which any cultural heritage information can be mapped. It is intended to be a common language for domain experts and implementers to formulate requirements for information systems, and to serve as a guide for good practice in conceptual modeling. The primary role of the CIDOC CRM is to serve as a basis for mediation of cultural heritage information, thereby providing the semantic 'glue' needed to transform today's disparate, localized, information sources into a coherent and valuable global resource. In other words, it describes in a formal language the explicit and implicit concepts and relations relevant to the documentation of cultural heritage. In this manner, it can provide a mechanism to mediate between different sources of cultural heritage information, such as that published by museums, libraries, and archives.

Importantly, the CRM is currently an International Standards Organization (ISO) Committee Draft ISO/CD 21127, and should be an ISO approved Standard by June 2004. The CIDOC CRM Special Interest Group (SIG) is involved also, in the Semantic Web initiative, and proponents are enthusiastic about the application of the CRM within the heritage and virtual heritage arenas, as it (the CRM) is viewed as an effective means for both enhancing and assuring interoperability across domain spectra.

In light of the aforementioned circumstances, we will map the 3DOKBS with the HumanML, HPCDML, and AnatML, each of which will also be mapped to the CRM under separate but allied organization activities. Similarly, the ATL is currently in the process of mapping the DANA-WH Schema to the CRM and this will be a key testbed implementation for the CRM, simultaneously extending the potential for interoperability of DANA-WH and the 3D OsteoKnowledgeBase.

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