Intellipedia: Increasing information sharing across the Intelligence Community

Friday - 7/30/2010, 11:00am EDT

Encore presentation, Originally aired Feb. 26, 2010 -- Sean Dennehy and Don Burke were tasked with increasing knowledge sharing across the intelligence community in 2005.

Against the odds, these analysts in the Central Intelligence Agency have succeeded in creating a tool that breaks with the prevailing culture, increases the flow of information and ultimately makes our country safer.

The intelligence community has traditionally discouraged the sharing of intelligence widely for fear of compromising classified information.

The downsides of this strategy became apparent to federal officials after learning how intelligence agencies failed to "connect the dots" in the months leading up to the September 11 attacks.

Former Deputy Director of Intelligence Carmen Medina explained, "There was way too much weight placed on the individual actor model of analysis, but the world's too complicated and dynamic for that.

Armed with the support of forward-thinking leaders and technology enthusiasts in the community, Dennehy and Burke charged ahead to bring the open source ethos that drives the Internet into the intelligence business.

After overcoming several early obstacles—including a rejected funding proposal, debates about the design of the software, nagging concerns about security, and perpetual cultural resistance—they finally achieved initial success with "Intellipedia," an internal knowledge repository modeled off the popular user-generated Wikipedia.

"As an analyst," Dennehy said, "it resonated with me to see pages about sensitive topics created by numerous contributors."

Since Intellipedia's creation by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Burke and Dennehy's primary task has been to serve as "evangelists," educating analysts and spreading the word about the potential benefits of Intellipedia and other social media tools.

Derrick T. Dortch talks to the Central Intelligence Agency's Don Burke, Intellipedia Doyen and Sean P. Dennehy, Intellipedia and Enterprised 2.0 Evangelist about Intellipedia, what is does, how it works, what challenges they face, how their systems has helped the Intelligence Community (IC) and what the future holds.