I recently led a team of nine that made a two hour presentation to the Department of Defense at the new Mark Center to provide perspective on the DoD Enterprise Information Web (EIW).
The EIW team is pioneering the adoption of semantic technology and approaches that can be the way forward for enterprise business intelligence and solution architectures in the DoD.
Our team, called the Semantic Community, is one that advocates for “do-it-yourself” enterprise information web and analytics. Our thesis is that semantics makes sense, but you don’t need to wait for the big COTS vendors in order to make an information web nor run analytics across it. Anybody can do it by following a few simple rules, and using some readily available and quite affordable tools.
The purpose of these briefings was to gather market research from about 60 firms (I was told the actual number is classified) during the past 45 days or so to help the DoD decide if using semantic technologies is worth pursuing.
As I’ve noted in previous articles, DoD has been piloting and researching semantic technologies for about two years now under the direction of Dennis Wisnosky, chief architect and CTO Business Mission Area at DoD. (You can see Wisnosky describe semantic technologies in a video and learn more about DoD’s EIW efforts in a story I wrote recently.) The end result may be a formal request for procurement and contract award, although DoD managers say that has not been decided yet.
My understanding is that DoD has a number of consultants helping them with this that are restricted from giving out any information from these briefings that may be proprietary of confidential from the presenters. All of our presentation was public domain-based on open standards and open collaboration with public domain content so that is not a problem for our team.
In fact we told them that we had already piloted an DoD EIW for them with DoD public content during most of the past year.
We also recommended they follow the NCOIC-NGA Voice of Industry CRADA and the EPA Apps for the Environment Challenge approaches to foster innovation without conventional contractual competition and with DoD public domain data sets.
These two things would give them a balance industry view on the use of semantic technologies and free apps from the community of developers, just like the rest of our government is taking advantage of, to foster innovation at low or no cost.
The DoD staff and contractors present at our briefing asked good questions and said they would seriously consider our suggestions.
But more to the point, I think this is an excellent way for our federal government to do market research and hopefully better inform and improve the contract procurement process. We will have to see what, if anything, tangible comes out of this.