Protected information exchange could aid in Mideast missions

Proposed program part of move toward collaboration in intel communities

The problems that complicate the establishment of a common and coherent infrastructure to be used across the intelligence community are keeping Greg Gardner awake at night. The deputy chief information officer for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said he sees implementing information sharing as his office’s mission.

According to Gardner, a program to support the mission is in the works: the protected information exchange, an unclassified project that would operate on its own virtual private network and be certified and accredited for official use only. Through the exchange, intelligence could be shared on issues such as operating environments in Afghanistan and information on Pakistan, according to Gardner.

Initially populated by non-military interests, the exchange -- called PIX -- so far targets entities such as the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and non-government organizations. “We want to give them force protection information and communications,” Gardner said at a luncheon presented by the DC chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

PIX would operate similar to a wiki, populated with information from users about locales and events. “It’s going to take some time" to build, Gardner said. “We have to convince people that getting out of gmail and Google docs is the way to go. We have a vision for where we want PIX to go, but so far it’s just the infrastructure and a couple small programs I’m not going to identify.”

Creating this kind of data-sharing infrastructure will require the federal government to improve operations as the mission goes on – and “it’s kind of like changing your oil while driving at 60 miles per hour,” Gardner said. He added that multitasking is key to facilitating department-wide information sharing.

“Identity and access management, collaboration tools, production and storage and networks – these are our five swim lanes [for building communications infrastructure across the intelligence community],” Gardner said. “And it needs to be totally reliable and robust.”

“Overall, we really need the ability to share this highly compartmentalized information with decision-makers that need it,” he said.

 

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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