Thursday, November 02, 2006

CIA's "Intellipedia"

The LA Times reports that the CIA is using Wikipedia technology to build a dynamic storehouse of intelligence information.

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have created a computer system that uses software from a popular Internet encyclopedia site to gather content on sensitive topics from analysts across the spy community...

The system allows analysts from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to weigh in on debates on North Korea's nuclear program and other sensitive topics, creating internal websites that are constantly updated with new information and analysis, officials said.

The system, which the public cannot access, is divided into classification categories starting with "sensitive but unclassified" and ending at "top secret."

More than 3,600 analysts and other intelligence officials have registered to use the service since it was launched in April, officials said.
I wonder how many state and local agencies could consider this kind of system, assuming that the necessary precautions were taken. Generally, this sounds like a really good means of information sharing. Not only does it invite widespread participation, but a Wikipedia-type system has a built-in advantage, in that many people are already familiar with it.

So far, the number of registered users sounds promising. My only question is how many of them are actually using it. A separate info-sharing network, the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) has more than 16,000 registered users, according to a June 2006 report by the DHS Inspector General, but only a small fraction of them actually use the system on a regular basis (around 450, according to my calculations). DHS is trying to fix it, as I indicated recently.

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