The Weakest Link: Preparedness

The five main dimensions of collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing preparedness include:

  • InfrastructureInfrastructure integration, agility, and scalability, as well as availability, redundancy, and reliability, for communications as well as for knowledge management and sharing. While at first, this may seem like a lot, it is really quite feasible as today's technology can do a lot for the required infrastructure. In fact, the infrastructure requirements can be split in two main logical considerations:

    • IntegrationEnsure a single integrated and extensible operational network environment providing infrastructure integration, agility, and scalability, as well as integrating everyone and every collaborator, on permanent basis.

    • AvailabilityEnsure network availability, redundancy, and reliability, using the existing and expanding Internet base, with the existing cable, wireless, microwave, cellular, and satellite infrastructures, backing it up with with flexible, easily deployable wireless broadcast (e.g. WiMax, 3G) antennas with power backups, so that where a communication infrastructure becomes inoperative, another one can quickly replace it. In summary, one network and protocol with multiple redundant channels and technology, with easily re-deployable units.

  • CollaborationIntegrating Main collaborating beings operations, including public services, media, contractors, health care, government, military, and coordination, in the middle of a crisis and emergency, is a problem that is seriously constrained and limited by integrating their collaborative operations on a permanent basis. With a common and integrated redundant network environment, integrating collaborator contribution and operations is a functional and strategic issue but not a resource or an infrastructure one.

  • KnowledgeA knowledge and information classification and sharing network requires a technical management operation, that is a working group with appropriate infrastructure support, managing the knowledge sharing environment and coordinating operations with/between collaborators and participants. This operation could be, but does not have to be centralized. Manned and operated by knowledge management, sharing, and communication professionals, this operation is key. One of the justification that many have today, still, for setting up their own network (e.g. health, military, etc) is knowledge and information security, confidentiality, and privacy. Their concerns are real and need to be addressed adequately. For example, in addition to normal network, system, and application security, all shared information should be encrypted at all times, only to be selectively decrypted, according to resource entitlement, as well as detailed classification, and contexts. As well, all information access should be logged and traced with related entitlement, classification, and context information. All shared information is considered private, valuable, sensitive, strategic, and proprietary unless otherwise specified by the respective owners. As well, knowledge and information are only shared according to owner classification, which can change at any time. All shared information can be accessed, modeled, managed, processed, transformed, shared, and published according to specified entitlement, classification, and context. This is crucial as collaborator respect is a prerequisite to collaboration. The information owners decide what, how, when, why they wish share and providing them with the greatest protection is key to their willingness to share and contribute. Confidentiality and trust are key communication factors, especially for collaboration. The knowledge sharing and communication platform has to support collaborator respect by all possible means. Such a platform is feasible today, but it is not something that can be just quickly thrown together, in the middle of an emergency, not any more than an integrated reliable network. In other words, a permanent solution is required to ensure preparedness and minimize crisis and emergency.

  • TrainingWith a permanent operating platform, network, and infrastructure, training and exercise is on-going, both in dedicated specialized exercises and in normal everyday operations. The world is not a quiet place, events, crisis, emergencies happen every day, every hour, and every minute. An adequate integrated, efficient, reliable, and resilient collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing infrastructure, is a priceless tool, at any time.

  • PropagationWhile ideally, an integrated entitlement secure universal knowledge sharing and communication platform should be available to serve everyone on the planet, reality imposes a much more progressive and pragmatic path. In fact, the proposed solution should first be implemented in a single location, first as a pilot project, and then progressively, as a city wide project, before being propagated to other cities and areas. A lot of the required infrastructure is already existent, even the proposed redundancy is being developed already in many areas. The integration of the different collaborators is somewhat of a political and strategic issue but offers advantages that far outweigh the costs, it is very reasonably resolvable. The main effort required is setting up and integrating the knowledge sharing platform. There again, the solutions already exist and are simply waiting for application and integration.

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