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The purpose of the N42 data format is to facilitate manufacturer-independent transfer of information from radiation measurement instruments for use in homeland security applications as well as for detection of illicit trafficking of radioactive materials.
The ANSI/IEEE N42.42 standard specifies the XML data format that shall be used for both required and optional data to be made available by radiation measurement instruments. The performance requirements for these types of instruments are described in other standards. The output from these instruments consists of measurement data and results of any analysis performed by the radiation measurement instrument. The ANSI/IEEE standard does not address instrument control, data transmission protocols, or the physical media used for communications. A free copy of the ANSI/IEEE N42.42 standard can be obtained from the IEEE website by going to the IEEE Get Program.
The structure of the data is described by an XML schema. The schema file allows XML parsers to validate the format of instrument data files: it defines the standard names for data elements and attributes, whether or not they are optional or required for each class of instrument, and the hierarchical relationships between them. The ANSI/IEEE N42.42 standard provides several examples to assist the implementer in the use and application of this standard.
The first version of the ANSI/IEEE N42.42 was published in 2006. The schema and examples for the 2006 version of the standard can be downloaded from here.
From the time of the initial publication of this standard there were new developments and uses for radiation measurement instruments. To address these changes there was a need to revise the ANSI/IEEE N42.42 so the revision of the standard was completed in 2011 and published in 2012. the schema and examples, as well as additional tools for the 2012 revision of the standards can be downloaded from here.