On Nov. 1, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) began managing the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) project. Sue Kamp, director of SIIA’s Education Market Section, predicts the release of specification version 1.0 this spring and, potentially, SIF-compliant products on the market by early fall.

After review, applications that meet the SIF group’s specifications can be marketed with a “SIF Compliant” logo. It’s this logo you’ll want to look for beginning this fall when you solicit bids for products and services. Until then, you can find a list of vendors that are participating in SIF on the group’s web site.

The SIF architecture is a distributed networking system with a Zone Integration Server (ZIS) and integration agents organized into zones. (A zone can be a single school building or a district, because the size is flexible.) Each application a school uses will require an agent, with the ZIS acting as the integration point for all agents in a zone, controlling access and routing within the system.

Kamp says the SIF standard is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), so a server environment is required, but it will be vendor- and platform-neutral.

SIIA is looking for more educators to get involved with the SIF project, and Kamp says there are several possibilities open. Educators are needed as advisers to sit on any of the 13 SIF working groups (such as Curriculum, Food Services, Gradebook, Human Resources and Financial Management, Library, and Student Information.)

Educators can become voting members of SIF and sit on a committee. SIF also needs districts to apply to become pilot sites to test SIF-compliant software. Schools can have an impact on moving the initiative into the market by encouraging all vendors they work with to become involved in SIF and by requesting SIF-compliant products in all requests for proposals, Kamp said.

To get involved or for further information, visit the initiative’s web site, http://www.siia.net/sif.—CG