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Tons of knowledge resides in Air Force Web site

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- Just about anything worth knowing about the Air Force, especially on the maintenance and acquisition side, can be found through a collaborative Web system called Knowledge Now.

Knowledge Now is almost too big to describe, according to Randy Adkins, Air Force Materiel Command Knowledge Now project manager. It is a merger of three formerly large programs: Air Force Desk Book, AFMC Help Center and the Air Force Knowledge Management site.

All of those sites support people through various stages of buying and maintaining equipment, and working with servicemembers and employees, Adkins said. The site now has expanded to covering a wide variety of operational subjects in the Defense Department.

The list of subjects covered in Knowledge Now includes everything from space tactics, to special weapons, to system management to B-2 Spirit radar modification, Adkins said. There are even pages for civilian interns participating in the Air Force's Palace Acquire program.

Much of Knowledge Now is divided into functional, or subject matter that includes databases and joint work spaces called Communities of Practice. Adkins said this capability has proven so popular that the number of "communities" has expanded from 10 to 200 in the past year.

"Communities of Practice are the operating mode for transformation senior leadership communication," said Maj. Gen. Michael Mushala, director of the AFMC's transformation office.

The system now is getting about 20,000 users a month, and is growing, according to Adkins. He can cite many stories on how the database has saved the day for fellow Defense Department users.

One involves a Marine captain in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, who was tasked with buying some goods locally. He needed help in preparing the terms and conditions for a blanket purchase agreement. None existed at his bare base location, but he remembered reading about Knowledge Now while attending a contingency contracting course in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

So, the Marine borrowed an Army computer and checked out the Air Force Web site. He found the information he needed at AFMC's Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

As luck would have it, he could not download from the site that day, so Adkins said the Marine called the Knowledge Now staff here and they e-ailed the material to him. He said he found the service invaluable and uses it often.

Whole weapons system communities join in using the system, according to Adkins. Spread throughout AFMC are pockets of specialists dealing with their particular subjects.

One such group is the space and C3I systems directorate at Ogden Air Logistics Center in Utah. They have eight CoPs to collaborate and coordinate with their suppliers and users on current support issues.

The communities include a password-controlled area for document sharing, discussion forums and other collaborative features, Adkins said. Currently there are about 200 of these "team rooms" that address everything from the Air Force Weather Squadron in Korea to the new E-10A Multi Sensor Command and Control aircraft.

In searching for examples of how Knowledge Now can help Air Force users, as well as others from the Defense Department, one user cites the Anti-Tamper Community of Practice. This community provides a focal point for exchanging information between programs for protecting critical information and technology from exploitation and reverse engineering.

An example of how the information in the site could be useful would have been the Navy P-3 Orion reconnaissance plane that was forced down in China in 2001, Adkins said. One concern among security specialists was how much information the Chinese could obtain by examining equipment on the plane. This CoP provides guidance on how to protect such equipment.

Future functions include "Wisdom Exchange," for people to ask questions of experts in specific financial areas.

"With 40,000 potential users in financial management alone, 'Wisdom Exchange' promises to be a dynamic knowledge tool," said Brig. Gen. Frank Faykes, AFMC financial management director.

Knowledge Now is limited to users on military-only systems, such as "dot mil" addresses. It can be found at https://afkm.wpafb.af.mil/ASPs/CoP/Entry.asp?Filter=OO. For more information, call Randy Adkins at (937) 656-0822. (Courtesy of AFMC News Service)

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