Knowledge management in the cloud: Catalyst for open government?

Cloud-based communities will require an international approach to standards, governance, speakers say

The combination of knowledge management and a cloud computing environment is the likely catalyst for open government, Ramon Barquin, president of Barquin International told attendees at a knowledge management conference in Washington, D.C. today.

Barquin’s observation was a sentiment shared by other knowledge management practitioners during a panel discussion luncheon entitled “KM in the Cloud,” at the Knowledge Management Conference held by 1105 Government Information Group, parent company of Government Computer News.

The conference is being held simultaneously with the Cloud Computing Summit and Open Government & Innovations Conference.


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Knowledge management comprises a range of strategies and practices used within an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Cloud computing refers to services, applications, and data storage delivered online through powerful file servers.

The two intersect on governance, intellectual property rights and standards, said Robert Neilson, knowledge management advisor within the U.S. Army’s Office of the Chief Information Officer.

With intellectual property issues, the questions are: Who owns information in the cloud and what is the business model for leveraging intellectual property in the cloud, Neilson said.

Regarding standards, the issue is: Who sets the standards? Is it the vendors, government or international standard bodies? If it is just the larger firms -- domestically or internationally – will that hamper innovations from smaller firms?

On governance, the question is: Who makes the rules?

“What is the nexus between KM and cloud computing?” Neilson asked. “I think it is communities of practice or interest,” he said. There will be an exponential growth of communities with a considerable international perspective in the cloud. The international community is not going to let the U.S. govern things, he said.

So there has to be a level playing field for all parties, just as in international trade, he said.

Moving KM into the cloud should be a business decision rather than an information technology decision, said Susan Camarena, chief knowledge management officer for the Federal Transit Administration, an agency within the Transportation Department.

“We have to take a more strategic approach for what the cloud can do for our business opportunities, just like we had to do with knowledge management,” Camarena said. “It can’t be [just] an IT thing.

Within cloud computing, there are delivery models such as infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service. “Can we take the knowledge [collected] throughout the government [and eventually offer] knowledge-as-a service?” Camarena asked

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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