Can't stump an expert

GCN Insider | Trends & technologies that affect the way government does IT

It's been a while since we've heard much about so-called expert systems, but that was what Dustin Huntington, president of Exsys Inc. (www.exsys.com) of Albuquerque, N.M., wanted to talk about recently. Maybe it's because 'expert system' has been subsumed by terms such as 'knowledge management' and 'decision support.' Maybe it's because anyone making a customer relationship management or similar tool considers it 'expert' without having to say so. Either way, the latest version of Exsys' expert system development software, Corvid 3.3, included some improvements that could help pin the 'expert' label on just about any Web-based application.

In a nutshell, the Corvid tool allows agency experts to describe their knowledge in a logical, graphical way so their peers'and their constituents'can tap their knowledge. 'Corvid is designed to distribute the decision-making knowledge needed to solve commonly occurring problems that are well-documented and understood by domain experts within an enterprise,' Huntington said.

Think of a Corvid-designed system as an intelligent FAQ plus workflow. Start with a question and the system knows how to arrive at the correct answer by asking for additional information and routing the query to the appropriate person.

Huntington told us the new version of Corvid supports development in multiple languages and can now be designed to deliver expert systems via e-mail. Agencies can also now create systems that mirror the look and feel of their existing Web sites.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration uses Corvid for its eLaws Advisors program, which offers advice about Federal employment laws related to compliance issues, workplace laws, rights and responsibilities. And the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency recently used Corvid to build what it calls a Cultural Resources Expert Advisor into its larger Environmental Knowledge Automation Management System.

According to Huntington, the Corvid system helps USDA comply with federal preservation laws by consulting with various parties, including state historic preservation officers. The Web-based system asks question to determine whether an action requires a cultural resource review and automatically generates correspondence with the appropriate parties.

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