Information Discovery and Sharing

The nets are abuzz with a new information sharing strategy for the intelligence community. The .pdf version I saw, dated 22 Feb 2008, has yet to be posted on the ODNI website, so there is a chance it is not the final (FAS posted a copy online ). From what I've seen, it takes the same well thought out approach as the information sharing strategy signed out by the President and also draws upon the many lessons learned in the DoD Info Sharing Strategy .

Key threads apparent in all these documents include recognition that information sharing is not a technology problem. Technology absolutely must be part of the discussion, but the most important issues to address are always human issues. Things like culture, policy, training and decision-making are absolutely critical to success in information sharing.

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Update:  The document is now officially on the ODNI website.  It is located at:

http://odni.gov/reports/IC_Information_Sharing_Strategy.pdf

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I have noticed a key difference in 22 Feb ODNI plan.  The ODNI info sharing strategy places a much higher premium on making information discoverable. Discovery in enterprises is a very elegant concept that goes far beyond search.  At its most basic level it is a way of answering the hard question "what information is out there that I can use?" Among technologists that generally gets translated into "which databases are available and what is their IP address and how do I query them?" But to users the concept of discovery is something far more mission centric. For many users it is their life. They come into work and start discovering so they can do their job.

I like the ODNI strategy because it focuses on those users.

As I read the strategy I kept thinking of one person. A guy not in the intelligence community, but driven to serve and enhance it with the sort of capabilities called for in this strategy. He is John Mackay of Endeca. John brings capabilities that are the same as are used in the e-commerce world to enhance information access and sharing to 100's of millions of users, like the users of online retailers (wal-mart.com or homedepot.com) or manufacturing companies (Boeing or IBM, for example), or media powerhouses (like LexisNexis or Cox, for example).

Discovery capabilities like those provided by Endeca help users do far more than just hunt for information they know is out there.  They can hunt for information they don't know is out there.  And they can discover things they did not realize they were looking for.   Imagine searching for a concept and not only being provided clustered results back on that but lists of other key concepts that relate, and lists of possibly surprising facets of the data in the search result.

Anyone in the community who has not seen the capability of Endeca should contact John. He can help you understand why users like information discovery far more than information search.

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Bob Gourley

Partner at Cognitio Corp
Bob Gourley is a Co-founder and Partner at Cognitio and the publisher of CTOvision.com andThreatBrief.com. Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley
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About Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is a Co-founder and Partner at Cognitio and the publisher of CTOvision.com and ThreatBrief.com. Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley

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