DON CIO Releases Web 2.0 Policy

By Christy Crimmins - Published, February 20, 2009

On October 20, 2008, the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer released a memo providing initial guidance to all Navy and Marine Corps commands regarding the use of Web 2.0 tools. "I wanted to provide guidance and encourage its [Web 2.0] use among Navy and Marine Corps commands," Robert Carey, DON CIO said. "Web 2.0 tools present many opportunities for collaboration and information sharing. They are becoming vital to keeping pace in today's environment."

Although Web 2.0 can be defined in a variety of ways, it is generally accepted as a collective term for Web technologies that promote greater user input, creativity, information sharing and collaboration.

Popular Web 2.0 tools like Wikipedia, YouTube and Facebook are primarily driven and maintained by user input. For example, if a user notices an error in an entry on Wikipedia, rather than e-mailing an author or webmaster, the user can simply apply for an account and make the correction.

This method leads to a much quicker release of accurate and updated information while improving direct collaboration among interested parties. Imagine how using this tool could improve the processing and release of DON "taskers" and correspondence.

Over the last few years, use of Web 2.0 applications has grown. Facebook currently has more than 120 million active users — up from 70 million less than a year ago. The social networking site is also the fourth most trafficked Web site in the world, according to statistics published by Facebook.

Carey points out that as more and more "Millennials" (those born between 1980 and 2000) join the workforce, these Web 2.0 technologies will be used, needed — and even expected — more than they are today. Consider that the number of 120 million Facebook users is nearly equivalent to half of the number of U.S. taxpayers.

Consequently, the DON CIO team has begun incorporating a variety of Web 2.0 tools into their business processes. They are using wikis to capture corporate knowledge and lessons learned, as well as to develop policy and work with other government organizations.

The DON CIO spectrum team recently used a wiki to gather comments on its draft Electromagnetic Spectrum Policy document. This allowed those from the larger spectrum community the opportunity — not to just comment on the draft — but to help create it.

In addition, Carey writes a blog that is posted on the DON CIO Web site.

"I use this online journal to explore IT issues that are facing my office and the larger department,” he said. “This forum has opened up a dialogue within the community and even with those outside of the department. The feedback I receive is a key component of this blog and Web 2.0 tools in general."

The DON as a whole is using Web 2.0 tools in a variety of ways. For example, U.S. Fleet Forces Command is creating a work-related online social environment that leverages its task management system. It is also using a social network functionality to provide better visibility of personnel skill sets. This functionality gives the command the ability to form task-related working groups much more quickly and efficiently.

The Naval Research Laboratory set up a wiki for user documentation written by the developers and users of a particular telescope program. Also, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve executed a successful combined fleet, joint and coalition test for afloat chat capability over the NIPRNET.

Chat had been used on the SIPRNET side, but not on NIPRNET due to security vulnerabilities. The test used the open standard Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol, or XMPP, which has security features built in and has been approved for use by the Department of Defense.

Additionally, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is piloting E-CollabCenter and Defense Connect Online — also known as Button One and Button Two. These two collaboration tools facilitate virtual meetings and work groups through Web conferencing, chat rooms and one-on-one chat.

While the DON CIO memo does encourage commands to seek out opportunities to employ Web 2.0 tools, users are also warned that use of the tools must not compromise data integrity or confidentiality. Commands are also encouraged to "[A]here to existing information assurance (lA) and privacy policy, guidance, and best practices."

"As a DoD organization, we must be more mindful of security and cannot freely do everything that, say, an industry organization can," Carey said.

Additionally, the memo suggests ways in which Web 2.0 tools can be implemented. Among these examples are developing policy using wikis and broadcasting information via podcasts and blogs. Figure 1 shows an expanded list of some Web 2.0 tools and suggested uses. Mr. Carey points out that the list is not meant to limit the use of Web 2.0, but to provide suggestions for a starting point.

Christy Crimmins provides support to the DON CIO communications and emerging technology teams.

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