A global team of scientists racing to find a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is using a knowledge management tool from Vancouver-based Knexa Solutions Inc. to collaborate online.

The SARS Accelerated Vaccine Initiative (SAVI) team, which is funded by the B.C. government,

is focusing on finding a vaccine for the corona virus, the virus thought to be linked to the illness. As part of the process, Knexa chief technology officer Greg Whitnell said the SAVI team will use its software, which is designed to enable users to store knowledge on a Web site, as well as to look up experts and create communities of individuals. It provides the ability to work as subteams within the site, and permits users to stay in touch via e-mail alerts. This means users don’t have to proactively search for new information as it becomes available, Whitnell said. The information is pushed to them. The software can be implemented quickly using the vendor’s fast-track methodology, said CEO David Brett. Knexa, which provided the same technology to help Toulouse, France, manage a housing emergency following a large chemical explosion in 2001, e-mailed the B.C. government following the announcement of the funding, says Brett. “”We got a response within 24 hours and within a week we had set up a demo site for them to investigate how the site could help them,”” said Brett.

Paul Cox, provincial pandemic planning co-ordinator at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, called the Knexa solution a virtual home for the collection of international scientists working on the project.

“”It’s a way to directly ask questions of people who are working on the same topic as you are and also at the same time, go to the cupboard and find all the information you need all in one place,”” said Cox.

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