NIC sponsors wiki on global disease

At the invitation of the National Intelligence Council, a group of graduate students attending Mercyhurst College's Institute for Intelligence Studies has used their Strategic Intelligence class project to support and supplement the council's work on global disease.

Twenty-six students spent 10 weeks writing their own wiki-based 'National Intelligence Estimate' on the subject of global disease and its possible strategic impacts, addressing the 'key estimative question' posed by the project coordinator assigned to the group: What are the most important and most likely impacts on, and threats to, U.S. national interests resulting from infectious and chronic human disease originating outside our country over the next 10 to 15 years?

The students were given telephone access to analysts within the intelligence community, and the Office of the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis set up a private wiki for the students to use, but they worked independently of any government office.

The end product contains more than 1,000 individual pages, assesses the strategic impact of disease across the globe and draws on a wide range of publicly available sources, such as World Health Organization reports, media reports and government publications.

In its summary of the Mercyhurst project, the NIC concluded, '[W]e consider this product an invaluable contribution to the NIC's global disease project, not only in terms of content but also for the insights it provides into methodological approaches. ' [And] an important lesson in how wikis can be successfully deployed to facilitate such a multifaceted and participatory research project.'

The NIC is the intelligence community's center for mid- to long-term strategic thinking, providing a structure to reach out to nongovernmental experts in academia and the private sector in order to broaden the community's perspective. The NIC is where National Intelligence Estimates and other products are generated for policymakers.

The Federation of American Scientists first reported on the Mercyhurst wiki in its e-newsletter, Secrecy News.

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