Air Force user sparks government e-community

The essence of online community is 'having all the resources you need in one place,' believes Bill Dennehy, a software engineer at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

For about 18 months, he and other Air Force weapons systems testers have been using Livelink Web-based collaboration and content-management software from Open Text Corp. of Chicago to search engineering libraries by any chosen word. They can also search through briefings, meeting minutes, policy memos and tasks.

'You can retrieve exactly what you want,' he said. 'Almost every screen has a search block for that area or for the entire enterprise.' Users must have a security clearance and appropriate permission to view the materials.

After several of these communities of practice had grown up in the Air Force, Dennehy said, he suggested that Open Text make it possible for all of them to meet online in an e-community. 'Each base had its own instance of Livelink but couldn't hold discussions on other bases' servers,' he said.

So Livelink began hosting a workspace for all the Air Force Open Text account holders, Dennehy said, 'about 60 of them at different bases. We could all log in to the workspace and hold discussions, and the company could observe for product development.'

One of the improvements that resulted was a way to set the server software to show total number of hits from a search.

Dennehy then suggested that Open Text extend the e-community to other users in the Defense Department, IRS, NASA, and National Archives and Records Administration. The government e-community, announced publicly this month, has about 120 members.

In his own workspace, Dennehy watches news headlines, navigates the Web, sends e-mail, and keeps track of training and government events. 'It's lots more productive than a real meeting,' he said.

Others use the workspace for 'shared calendars, libraries, best practices, polls, surveys,' he said. 'And you can build a workflow to capture a process and audit its progress.'


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