Large federal bureaucracies are often technologically reactionary or simply wrong-headed. One thinks of the famous how-many-billions? uncompleted FBI project to create the bureau’s very own operating system and other software.
Imagine if, in August 2001, the U.S. intelligence agencies had dumped all of their information into one secure, online resource where it was searchable and accessible to anyone who had the proper clearance.
Who knows if the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 could have been averted? But one thing is clear in the documentation and reporting that has come out in the past five years: Intelligence agencies then were not talking to each other enough, owing to divisional rivalries, lack of trust and the bunkering of intel operations in their own “silos.”
Now the intelligence agencies are trying to remedy those problems with something they call Intellipedia, a model based on the popular online, user-generated encyclopedia Wikipedia.
U.S. intelligence czar John D. Negroponte discussed the database in Washington last week, saying it would allow analysts to collaborate, adding and editing intelligence to create a resource for all 16 U.S. agencies that have access to the top-secret version of Intellipedia.
Since its introduction in April, the classified version of Intellipedia has grown to 28,000 pages and 3,600 registered users, the government said. There are other versions of the database for “secret” and “sensitive but unclassified” intelligence.