State Department social network in the works

'Statebook' social media site will serve mainly as a means to share information with colleagues

The State Department will be launching its own social network, called Statebook, for employees and diplomatic officials, according to Richard Boly, director of eDiplomacy at the agency. Envisioned to function similarly to LinkedIn, the site will serve as a means to share information with colleagues.

With employees spread across the globe, Statebook will serve as a way to find subject-matter experts in various fields and potential resources, Boly said, noting that currently there is no quick way to locate experts. Using the network will allow employees to post profiles that other users can validate, as well as link to other resources, articles or posts they've contributed to other Web-based communities.

The office of eDiplomacy has been a part of the Bureau of Information Resource Management since October 2003. Its mission is to connect diplomats with IT decision-makers and improve collaboration efforts within and outside the department.

Other major projects by the office include virtual presence posts, which allow the department to engage with communities without an American embassy or consulate building; the Diplopedia wiki, the department’s internal unclassified online encyclopedia; communities @ State, which encourages personnel to form online blogging communities; enterprise search, which provides a range of search tools and databases for employees to find information on its intranet and interagency networks; classified web publishing on its classified interagency network; and collaboration clearinghouse, an advisory on best practices and collaborative tools.

Social networking has become a driving force in the Obama administration’s moves to make the federal government more open to the public and encourage greater public participation. It also is trying to foster greater internal collaboration by using sites such as Facebook to share information across departments or with the community.

The Homeland  Security Department , for example, launched its First Responder Communities of Practice online network Feb. 1. The network links fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services and emergency management personnel and enables them to connect and share advice on how to best prepare for and respond to all hazards, as reported by GCN this month.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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