CIA works to break info-sharing barriers

CHICAGO -- The CIA is slowly breaking down barriers to sharing information within the agency and among the intelligence community.

The agency ran a test with about 300 employees who used software to track the information in their e-mail messages and helped identify experts in specific areas, said Mike Wertheimer, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic transformation and technology in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“They have to figure out what is intelligence information and what is administrative information still, but the test showed this concept works,” he said at the Analytic Transformation conference, sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Additionally, the use of a classified version of Intellipedia, the intelligence community’s version of Wikipedia, is growing rapidly, said Sean Dennehy, the CIA’s chief of Intellipedia development.

“We still are in the early adopter phase, but I’ve been amazed how quickly it has grown,” Dennehy said. “There are pockets of individuals starting to move the collaboration process into Intellipedia.”

The intelligence community established Intellipedia in April 2006. Since then it has grown to about 27,000 articles, more than 20,000 registered users and 152,000 active pages.

The community also launched a version of Intellipedia for sensitive but unclassified information about a year ago. It is moving more slowly than the classified version, Dennehy said, but is starting to pick up.

“The Marine Corps is putting all their culture studies on the unclassified version, and that will help move the process because more people can use them,” he said. “We can reach out to a broader audience through this version.”

Dennehy added that another way to expand the sensitive-but-unclassified Intellipedia version is by letting authorized analysts sponsor academic experts to use the portal.

Other organizations are interested in developing similar sites. Dennehy said he has discussed the Intellipedia concept with the State Department and the Fusion Center in Washington.

Eventually, Intellipedia will fit under the soon-to-be developed A-Space collaboration portal, Dennehy said.

He said users are asking for enhancements, such as easy online editing tools and data extensions so information such as geospatial data can be entered more easily.

“We also have developed our own version of the del.icio.us social bookmarking site called Tag/Connect,” Dennehy said. “A lot of people want capabilities similar to Digg.com, a content-sharing site.”

Dennehy added that some users are asking for a virtual world for the intelligence community similar to Second Life.

“I think it is a no-brainer,” he said. “We could use it for training and other things.”

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