I stumbled across an interesting article while researching a presentation on virtual worlds and healthcare that I’m putting together:

The research arm of the U.S intelligence community has kicked off a project to tap into virtual world technologies, such as Second Life, to develop innovative decision support systems for intelligence analysis.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity project is directed by Jeffery Morrison, who runs the Analyst Space for Exploitation (A-SpaceX) program. Morrison says his project is designed to harness technologies to help the 15 agencies that report to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to change from a “need to know” culture to a “need to share” culture.

Under development is a new workstation to help analysts marshal and screen data, formulate data, and tell stories. It will support a creative process much like that used by a journalist, Morrison told Government Executive. He said he wants to find tools and technologies that support the analytical thought process, a true killer application that does not exist today. Bits and pieces of various synthetic world technologies can aid in development of such an application, Morrison believes.

Morrison hopes the new analyst workstation will support that thought process through information organization and decision support tools he called “mind snaps,” involving visualization of information.

While there are limitations inherent in virtual worlds one benefit is that you can create a model that allows for distributed analysis where every bit of the process is captured. Who knows what a completely transparent process would reveal over time? This is great stuff. It’s a shame that we probably won’t get many updates on the project’s progress.

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