The 2012 Army Weapon Systems Handbook is available in a new, easier to access format.

I know, because Terry Edwards, Director of the Army’s System of System’s Engineering (SoSE), asked me to do it, but more to the point, I learned some lessons from the previous version (simpler is better) that I want to share with readers, especially those that want to build their own dashboards.

First some background: “The Army Acquisition Executive has launched a new highly collaborative SoSE campaign aimed at synchronizing development and delivery of technologies across the entire Army systems portfolio, service officials have said.

“Among the effort’s central tenets is a need to align programs more closely and establish an acquisition strategy that draws simultaneously from programs of record (PORs), commercial-off-the-shelf products, and emerging technologies from the Army’s Science and Technology Directorate–all as a way to maximize efficiency across the Army’s developmental spectrum.”

That led to a dashboard which is an important step to implementing Dynamic Case Management, such as Be Informed 4, and Business Events, such as TIBCO Solutions for the Army SOSE.

I first decided what this dashboard should be about: What should be Linked Open Data be like and what should be Structured Data be like. I concluded they should be similar to work done with the CIA World Factbook recently.

This is really important to the Quint (CIA, DIA, NGA, NRO, and NSA). Do not worry about what all those acronyms mean, just that they keep us safe, especially if they all work together “to connect the dots” and connecting the dots involves connecting unstructured and structured data by making unstructured data Linked Open Data as a first step.

Leaving out most of the details, I copied the Army Weapons Systems Manual table of contents to my wiki-scraper tool and gave it well-defined web addresses and drilled down within each item to give it additional well-defined web addresses (not to short and not too long). Boring, but absolutely essential work to succeed. That all goes into a spreadsheet which gets imported to a dashboard tool where the data sets can be sorted, searched, merged, etc. The detailed results are shown elsewhere.

One can go from the DoD System of Systems to the Army Weapons System of Systems to the individual systems. Now what you really want to do is use that to manage an enterprise of 153 weapons systems efficiently and effectively as Terry Edwards described above, in his work which is described further at “Army’s Resource Forest Is Good Metaphor For System Of Systems Approach.”

To do that you need to create relationships (dependencies) between the individual weapons systems and rules to govern those, just like I began to write down the steps in transforming the CIA World Fact Book to Linked Open and Structured Data. So these are the high-level concepts and the rest is boring, essential details.
So next time you hear a politician or senior government manager describe something really complicated they want to do, and for us to pay for, ask them do you have a simple dashboard for that to convince us they can make that work?

There is a famous quote from John Gall known as Gall’s Law: “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.”