Defence department enlists KM to track troops

Defence R&D Canada scientists are experimenting with a prototype knowledge management portal that may help staff avoid switching workstations in their search for information.

The department’s Valcartier division

Thursday said it was working with Xwave to create the site, which will be built on off-the-shelf products such as BEA’s WebLogic Enterprise Portal solution. DRDC Valcartier primarily provides services to the Canadian Forces, conducting research in optronic, information and combat systems.

Xwave was awarded the $2.6 million contract in late October, according to project manager Luc Dumouchele. A requirements analysis was conducted before Christmas to determine the department’s specific needs, then engineers created an initial prototype that was delivered at the end of March. The integrator has another two years to deliver the final model, which it calls a “”technology demonstrator.””

Denis Gouin, project manager and group leader in the DRDC’s visualization and geospatatial research unit, said the portal will aggregate more than a dozen different sources of structured and unstructured information. Right now, officers typically have to get on one computer to get some information, then move to a different computer to access another database. The portal is intended to help Defence keep better track of the armed forces.

The BEA products as well as technology from Comsult and Thales Canada will give the department a good foundation on which to build its portal, Gouin said.

“”A lot of the technology is already there,”” he said. “”The main aspect is to define what information we need and then how it can be accessed.””

Not all of the information to be included in the portal is in electronic form, Dumouchele said. Some of the data might be in legacy systems, but others might include faxes or telephone records.

“”We’re looking at getting access to various Web sites, live television feeds and databases that the government already uses,”” he said. “”There’s all sorts of formats.””

The next phase of the project will see DRDC researchers test the portal and provide feedback to Xwave, essentially revising it once a year for the next two years. Over that time, DRDC may try to add functionality related to knowledge management or geoexploration. The work being done at Valcartier could also become a model for other government departments that struggle to organize data, Gouin said.

“”We certainly want it transition to the forces,”” he said. “”There’s certainly a trend in. You can see that the concept has evolved from the desktop, where each user can configure it for his use. This has grown to the Web page concept, where you can configure environments, but also access information that is remote.””

The most immediate users of the portal will include the join

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