Gov 2.0 Summit Preview: Info Sharing In Afghanistan - InformationWeek
Software // Information Management
03:53 PM
Connect Directly

Gov 2.0 Summit Preview: Info Sharing In Afghanistan

At the upcoming Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, a U.S. intelligence expert will discuss a new program that makes Internet access and collaboration tools available to the Afghan public.

In a bid to increase collaboration and information sharing among non-governmental organizations, military and local citizens in Afghanistan, the military and intelligence community have recently begun piloting a project to provide Internet access and information sharing tools to Afghan communities.

Michele Weslander Quaid, the director of national intelligence's senior representative to the Secretary of Defense's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Task Force, will discuss the program, called UnityNet, in a session titled "Stability Out Of Chaos From Information Sharing" on Sept. 7 at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C.

In an interview previewing her talk, Weslander Quaid said that as combat operations in the Middle East evolve into counter-insurgency and stability operations, the military's success depends increasingly on working with the local population and non-governmental organizations, and not just against the militants.

"What matters most in this arena is not really finding information about the bad guys, but understanding the needs and concerns of the population," she said. "That data is primarily available in open source. We need access to that information, and there are others who could benefit from it. There's also information we could provide that would be helpful."

The UnityNet pilot will begin in 5 sites in key regions in Afghanistan where the military will provide open Internet connectivity, scanners and information sharing tools that the public, non-governmental organizations and others on the ground can use to access and share information with one another.

The military will use commodity hardware and mostly open source software in support of UnityNet to keep costs down, and hopes ultimately to leave the infrastructure in place even after the United States leaves the area. "This is something we can do relatively inexpensively," said Weslander Quaid.

Among the information the military hopes to seed the effort are detailed maps and pictures of the local area, both to give people context of where they are living and working and to enable them to mark up the maps with information and share that with interested parties. Maps are a key part of the strategy -- Weslander Quaid repeatedly noted both their importance in getting aid to the right places after the Haitian earthquake, as well as the public's role in improving those maps.

Weslander Quaid said that cultural barriers remain to effective information sharing with non-military parties, including a history of sometimes uneasy relationships with NGOs and a lack of a history in the intelligence community of sharing information in the open arena. However, while military culture and skills have traditionally focused on fighting and not community outreach, UnityNet will leverage capabilities DoD has built to assist in disaster areas like the Haitian earthquake and Pakistani flood zones.

Weslander Quaid sees an increasing willingness to share information. "There's something that wasn't there before as people realize that when it comes to stability operations we're all in this together," she said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll