By now, everybody knows about Wikipedia, the big online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute and almost anyone can edit. America’s intelligence community also has “wikis” like Intellipedia and “A-space” which facilitate collaboration. And now, one important section of the Department of Defense is getting into the game with Techipedia.
The Pentagon’s science and technology office used a conference called “Emerging Technologies for Defense Applications: Breaking the Barrier to Entry for Non Traditional Businesses” to lift the curtain on Techipedia. The conference was co-sponsored by the 1105 Government Information Group.
Al Shaffer is Principal Deputy Director for Defense Research and Engineering at the Defense Department:
It’s very much like Wikipedia, or Intellipedia. It’s a self-generating website where people can put in their own information. In the first month of operation, we’ve had 800 pages updated or created. That becomes self-generating. We’re not doing this for the Pentagon, we’re doing this for the S&T community (science and technology), but also for the requirements community, program managers, acquisition community, and also the IT community and industry. DoD Techipedia is really going to be a family of services.
It should be noted that these are not sites open to the general public and users need to have the Pentagon’s special clearance card on their PC in order to get access to these sites.
We got sneak peeks at the internal wiki, DoDTechipedia.mil, which has been up in beta since summer, and was made official earlier this month. The public portal, designed for companies that do not yet do business with the Pentagon, but might want to offer a good idea to solve a problem, is expected to go live in January; that will be called DefenseSolutions.gov. And finally, there will be an external wiki which will be an open version of DoDTechipedia.mil where defense contractors, and even those small-to-medium firms can get together with scientists, project managers, and other technology experts to try to sort out tech solutions to these problems.
This wiki is the answer to a common defense contractor complaint, that those who want to offer solutions to the Pentagon have trouble finding timely information on those needs, according to Kevin Gates with the House Armed Services Committee. “Again, it’s going to be incumbent on the industry folks to really be active, because this tool doesn’t work without your folks being involved as much as possible.”
DoD is hoping to speed the design and engineering processes for the next generation of science and technology solutions, this time in collaboration with small to medium businesses.