SPAWAR keeps sailors' advice on tap through knowledge management

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego is taking steps to preserve its sailors' knowledge, on which it relies heavily, and use it more efficiently.

It has adopted knowledge management software developed by Entopia Inc. of Belmont, Calif., to improve decision-making processes at the center. SPAWAR officials hope the move will let them keep the knowledge that otherwise would be lost when experienced sailors retire or leave the service.

Heikeun Ko, principal investigator at SPAWAR, said the best attribute of Entopia's Quantum 1.3 enterprise knowledge management system is that it makes access easy. Users can log on to the system via a standard Web browser.

'We can collect information and users can share information,' Ko said. 'The system is supported by intelligent search engines. Users can not only find documents, but they can find critical information like experts on a subject.'

The search engine works differently from commercial search engines such as Yahoo or Google, which look for specific words, he said.

Quantum understands the relationship between words, Ko said, and directs users to subject experts, e-mail messages and documents it collects from databases, Web sites, files and clipboards.

Brian Bartlett, Entopia's account manager for SPAWAR, said the system finds the places where knowledge is hidden. The software collects and archives documents throughout a network, scans them for key words and stores them with metadata tags that can be searched and edited.

'It uncovers the tacit knowledge that is being hidden and not shared,' Bartlett explained. 'Most of the knowledge never gets into the database; it's in employees' heads.'

It also works with existing computer systems at SPAWAR so the Navy did not have to buy additional hardware to use it, said Peter Katz, executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Entopia.

The software takes two approaches to getting the knowledge stored and isolated on local hard drives and in the minds of the center's experts, Katz said. The system gives users access to documents through a standard browser, Katz said, or it lets them communicate through shared folders and discussions.

Quantum 1.3 is built on a three-tier client-server architecture. The Collect Local client functions on the center's Intranet and communicates through a proprietary protocol. The browser-based Collect Web client communicates over standard Hypertext Transfer Protocol. And the server software is written in Java.

Built-in access control and file permission features ensure that only authorized contributors or workgroups view secure content, Katz said.

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