Navy launches specialized portal

The Navy launched a Web portal today to link Surface Warfare officers deployed worldwide with their families, hometown news and fellow officers as well as career and financial counseling, educational resources and other naval resources.

Electronic business solutions provider Integic Corp., in conjunction with Columbia Research Corp. and Edelman Financial Services Inc., built the SWONET portal (www.swonet.com). The Navy will pay about $2 million a year to maintain the site.

The surface warfare community was calling for an online resource to help link them with important personal and work-related information. The two main reasons for developing SWONET were to form an Internet community for this group and enhance the retention rate for SWOs, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Negus said.

About 8,700 officers—on ships and ashore—will use SWONET, Negus said. The portal uses specialized search engines equipped with intelligent agents to ease navigation and to manage relevant information. The officers can access resources such as hometown news, private and public chat sessions and calendars of events for upcoming deployment destinations.

In a test run, the Navy showed SWONET to officers in Norfolk, Va., San Diego and Newport, R.I. "Then we used their feedback in the development of the site," Negus said. "The junior officers asked for ways to enhance their professional capabilities on day-to-day operations like information sharing from the training centers and schools. They were very interested in that."

Integic and its partners began working on the project in August with the goal of providing SWOs with an online resource where they could collaborate and help each other out, said Jim Fraley, Integic's SWONET project manager.

"There's a lot of information out there, and we categorize and organize it," Fraley said. "When you're on a ship, there's limited bandwidth and you can't be jumping all over the place to different sites. This is one-stop shopping for information."

The Navy's Surface Warfare officers are stationed on ships and on shore all over the world and had no way of knowing what problems their colleagues were facing, what projects they were working on, and lacked an overall sense of an SWO community. Until now.

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