Air Force moving into 'Net communities

MONTGOMERY, Ala.'The Air Force is establishing Internet "communities of practice" (COP), where Web sites will bring together widely dispersed groups to share information and solve problems.

At the annual Air Force IT conference this week, officials for the service's knowledge management program, Air Force Knowledge Now (AFKN), made the pitch to military and civilian personnel that joining an existing COP or establishing a new community for an unserved information need will save time and money while giving them better tools to do their jobs.

AFKN has been identified as a "center of excellence" within the armed services, said Connie Sawdey, president and owner of Sawdey Solution Services Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, and a contractor who supports the program. "It's getting people with experience and knowledge connected" to those facing some problem for the first time, she said. It is about providing "opportunities and ways to facilitate collaboration to capture pieces of tacit knowledge'stuff you know but that's not written down.'

The Gartner Group estimated that 80 percent of an organization's knowledge is tacit, Sawdey said, making it essential to establish mechanisms for identifying, capturing and transferring personal practices, experience and expertise from one group to another.

Bill Miles, program manager for Triune Software Inc. of Beavercreek, Ohio, which holds the contract for AFKN, said there are more than 4,700 communities of practice and more than 120,000 users registered.

"We get four million page hits a month," Miles said. "We get a lot of [Air National] Guard hits. About 15 percent of the hits are from guard and reserve members."

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