Iraq authority relies on Groove collaboration tool

The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is using a prototype system from Groove Networks Inc. to collaborate with Iraqi forces and coalition partners.

The authority has no direct access to Defense Department networks. The team needed a secure system to exchange documents and instant messages and to collaborate with one another, said Donald Harrison, special assistant to the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for networks and information integration. Harrison helped set up the contract with the Beverly, Mass., company.

One of the biggest challenges the authority has faced since the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, Harrison said, is the need for secure ad hoc communications among the authority, the Iraqi ministries, the Iraqi people, security forces, coalition partners, contractors and suppliers.

The authority began using the Groove software late last year. The effort began as a prototype with roughly 40 users. Now there are 100 users and the authority expects the user base to grow to more than 1,000 over the next few months.

With the peer-to-peer system, users create virtual shared spaces, add software tools and content to use within the spaces, invite others to become members and then interact to solve problems, said Robert Kirkpatrick, a member of Groove's humanitarian systems group.

'Out-of-the-box tools include chat, voice-chat, shared files, threaded discussions, calendars, whiteboards, document review, meetings, customizable forms and project management,' he said.

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