A-Space set to launch this month

Later this month, intelligence community analysts will begin using A-Space, an online collaboration environment that officials hope will improve analysts’ abilities to share information, form communities and collaborate.

A-Space will go live on the government’s classified Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System Sept. 22, the program's designers said today at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance’s Analytic Transformation 2008 conference in Orlando, Fla.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence sponsored the effort, and the Defense Intelligence Agency is overseeing it. ManTech International was the prime contractor in developing A-Space.

A-Space has been in development and testing for almost a year, Michael Wertheimer, ODNI’s assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic transformation and technology, said at the conference.

The program’s designers want A-Space to give analysts from all 16 intelligence agencies a place to share ideas and information more freely and collaborate across agency lines.

After logging in, analysts will have access to shared and personal workspaces, wikis, blogs, widgets, RSS feeds and other tools. To log in, analysts will need to prove their identity using public key infrastructure, and their agencies must list them in the governmentwide intelligence analyst directory.

Like many social-networking sites, each analyst will create an online personal profile, and colleagues can see what others are working on and the A-Space workspaces that they are using. In addition, much like Facebook, users can also post notes on one another’s profiles.

A-Space analysts will have access to all information at the highest classification level that is accessible through the collaboration environment. They will be able to access data from six data sources from different agencies, including the National Security Agency, State Department and Defense Intelligence Agency. Officials expect to add more datasets by January.

A-Space will include a search function that lets analysts look for content on other classification domains, including those that allied countries share, according to A-Space designers.

Wertheimer said A-Space is intended to give analysts an IT environment that fosters a sense of community.

“This was meant to be their place,” he said at the conference, where he presented an unclassified version of A-Space.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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