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Enhancing Public-Private Partnership Through BRIDGE

Are you in or do you serve the Intelligence Community? Need help with your outreach?

I’ve met many strong players in the intelligence community over the last 25 years.  The strongest of them have always sought ways to enhance their outreach to others so they can better serve the mission.  But even the most experienced run into impediments in doing that.  Many of those impediments are for good reason like security.  But many impediments were for illogical reasons like bureaucratic inertia or cultural/behavioral issues (like “we don’t do that around here”).   Sometimes outreach was not done because it was seen as a bit too hard.  Most real players never let that excuse get in the way, but for some that could be an issue.

Now two things have changed that should make outreach from the IC much much easier.  The first thing of note is an Intelligence Community Directive signed by the Director of National Intelligence.  ICD 205 of 16 July 2008 (found at the ODNI website) provides doctrinal top-cover to analytic outreach. This type of top-cover has an impact and can help those who want to coordinate do so with less uncertainty about the right way.

A more recent improvement is an online capability provided by the ODNI’s Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis (DDNI/A) called BRIDGE.  BRIDGE flows from many lessons learned from throughout the community, including work at IARPA.

The rest of this post concerns BRIDGE.  It provides a link and a request for technologists interested in national security to submit an application into BRIDGE.

What is BRIDGE? The primary goal of BRIDGE is to enhance public-private partnerships on topics of interest to the intelligence community.  However, it also provides a mechanism for companies with interesting technologies to evaluate their technologies in the context of intelligence community mission challenges and for an ability to work in the intelligence community enterprise.  Any technology that works in BRIDGE should be able work in A-Space or other major IC projects/programs, for example.

My role in BRIDGE: I’m just a user, having been invited in by an IC professional who has never let any bureaucrat stand in the way of outreach (Kelcy) and then mentored in it by the thought leader behind BRIDGE, Dan Doney.  I’ve had several informal discussions with Dan and Kelcy and others in the IC about BRIDGE, and periodically log in to check out what is new there.

How can an IC analyst use BRIDGE? Use it for the kind of outreach called for in ICD 205 of course.  You can also use it for unclassified coordination with technologists.  You will need to sign up.  And you will need to invite others into BRIDGE and sponsor them.

Classification: BRIDGE is unclassified only.  But it requires authentication and PKI security to get in.  To join BRIDGE you must be sponsored by someone who is already in (if you are a technologist I know and trust I will sponsor you).   Once in you can exchange information, work collaboratively on projects, and use any software in the environment.

What about all the other tools out there? There are a bunch that can be used for outreach.  I’m in lots of them, like several NING sites, CollabNet software repositories, Yammer, and of course Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc etc etc.   And there are also the great unclassified tools provided by ICES like Intelink-U.  Networkers use many vehicles.  But BRIDGE has different/more powerful functionality that can result in more trustworthy collaboration and input and at the same time offer some very high end IT tools to work collaborative issues.

What should you do after you are in? My recommendations: Step one is to look around.  Step two is to fill in your user info in the user page of the wiki.  Step three is to test out the collaborative tools.

Here is more about its functionality from its creator (as written up in a Jeff Carr post on O’Reilly Radar):

“BRIDGE is designed to enable crowd-sourcing of intelligence applications–following the iPhone AppStore model–by providing a low barrier-to-entry platform to stimulate innovation and enable analysts to discover next generation capabilities that have value to their mission.

BRIDGE takes the Wiki model which enabled end users to easily contribute textual content en masse, and extends it to technology providers, enabling them to contribute technologies that enhance the intelligence mission in a matter of days. It is important to emphasize BRIDGE is not a Web2.0 tool, it is a low barrier to entry environment where promising Web2.0 tools can be placed – and analysts can use them to uncover their value prior to acquisition.

Since BRIDGE exposes key web services that emulate the mission environment, promising tools can be plucked from BRIDGE and quickly integrated into classified environments. This enables providers to develop against these endpoints in an unclassified setting, get feedback from users enabling shorter development spirals, mash-up new combinations of services, and dramatically reduce the time it takes to transition software to the mission setting. BRIDGE uses a ‘perpetual beta’ model giving users an EARLY look at technologies–and a chance to provide feedback while they are still maturing.

Another unique characteristic of BRIDGE is that it provides an environment for Analytic Outreach–a place where IC analysts can reach out to expertise elsewhere in federal, state, and local government, in academia, and industry. New communities of interest can form quickly in BRIDGE through the ‘web of trust’ access control model–access to minds outside the intelligence community creates an analytic force multiplier.”

Users get access to BRIDGE by signing up at their portal at:  https://registration.bridge-ic.net/

If you are a technologist or other intelligence professional that please send me a note after you register so I can sponsor you in.

Developers and users can find out more about BRIDGE at:  http://about.bridge-ic.net/


Related posts:

  1. Intelligence Community Executive Forum and Carahsoft
  2. A Recap of the 2009 DoDIIS Worldwide Conference
  3. Vision for the Enterprise CTO: Lessons from DNI Vision 2015

Read the original blog entry...

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of CTOvision.com

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