Keep tabs on IT with DOD's Tech Navigator

Government users who feel overwhelmed by attempts to keep up with developments in information technology should point their browsers to the Defense Department's new Technology Navigator World Wide Web site.

Designed to enable national security technologists and government IT managers to track the rapid changes in IT products and services available from industry and academia the Technology Navigator is located at www.dtic.mil/technav/index.html.

The site while lacking in stunning graphics or other bells and whistles is well-organized and easy to use. It provides several mechanisms for information technologists to keep tabs on the evolving industry depending on user preference.

At the core of the new collaborative tool which is sponsored by the Defense Technical Information Center is a searchable browsable database of products and services and related information designed to allow government users to quickly find data to help solve IT problems. Click on "Search/ Browse" to access this feature which allows users to search by a wide variety of helpful categories.

A recent search using the term "security" turned up dozens of results such as links to companies with security products papers on the topic by various professors multiple government projects on the topic and several federal security standards.

The site features a "What's New" section with the most topical information - such as recently released papers or new additions to the site - and a bulletin board section that features interactive events such as discussion groups on various topics. The bulletin board area also is a good place to start to look for schedules for various IT events and it allows users to submit IT events to be added to the schedule.

Although it is not very easy to find the site also contains a well-organized list of emerging technologies with an explanation of how they mesh with the intelligence-gathering realm. Click on "About" and then on "Information Technology" to read about several new applications used for intelligence gathering such as automated detection and warning tools collaborative analysis tools groupware products data analysis tools and visualization products.

For example most data analysis and visualization tools historically used by intelligence analysts have not extended beyond simple business graphics spreadsheets and database applications. More recently however applications are exploiting visual toolkits available to provide sophisticated 2-D and 3-D interactive graphics and imaging techniques the Navigator reports.

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