Thursday, August 30, 2007

TOP STORY >>Air Force’s ‘Knowledge Now’ streamlines flow of information

By Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates
Air Force News Agency

SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) — The Air Force now has a “virtual community” where individuals can go anytime to share information with their peers anywhere in the world.

Called “Knowledge Now,” this community is a collaborative Web system that is accessible through the Air Force Portal and is designed to allow Airmen of all ranks, specialties and skill levels to communicate with each other on a variety of topics.

“The objective is to create an environment of people from across the Air Force where they can collaborate and share their expertise on a variety of subjects,” said Randy Adkins, director of the Air Force Center of Excellence for Knowledge Management.

These subjects are divided into databases and joint work spaces called Communities of Practice, or COPs. This capability has proven to be one of the system’s more popular features, Mr. Adkins said.

These “communities” serve as a resource for Airmen who need information to accomplish a mission. One example, said Mr. Adkins, was in 2003 when a junior Airman was deployed to Baghdad and told to set up an armory.

The Airman had never performed this task and was unsure how to accomplish it. So, he logged into Knowledge Now, went into the security forces COP and sent out a request for help.

He received an answer from a senior master sergeant in the United States who detailed exactly how to set up an armory and provided instruction manuals.

The Airman’s armory was up and running in no time.

“This system can be used to help someone with just about any problem or information request imaginable,” Mr. Adkins said.
With nearly 200,000 users and more than 9,000 COPs, the list of subjects covered in Knowledge Now includes everything from space tactics to special weapons to system management to B-2 Spirit radar modification, Mr. Adkins said.

Because the system is more secure than a military e-mail account, users can even use Knowledge Now to send operations manuals, training guides and enlisted performance reports to all corners of the globe. There is even a secure version of the system available to units and users who use Secure Internet Protocol Router, or SIPR, to communicate.

Initially created in 2002, Knowledge Now is continually growing and evolving.

The system is seeing approximately 8,000 new users and dozens of new communities being started every month.

And it’s not just for Air Force people. The system is open to active-duty, Guard and Reserve people from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps as well.

So, growth is exactly what the system’s developers want to see.

“Ideally, we’d like to see everybody in the Air Force and the military as a whole using this system,” said Bill Miles, Air Force Knowledge Now program manager.

This program is also in line with the chief of staff’s directives regarding information sharing and knowledge enhancement within the Air Force.

“We have all heard the phrase “Flexibility is the key to airpower,” said Gen. T. Michael Moseley. “I would like to add that knowledge-enabled Airmen are the key to flexibility.”

Knowledge Now can be found at or via the Air Force Portal so users can access the system from home.

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