A primer on two-way collaboration

Openness, two-way communications enable successful communications between public and private sectors

Collaboration is the way commercial and government organizations conduct business in their sectors today. But often they don’t collaborate with each other across sectors.

Using his company as an example, Terry Kline, vice president and CIO at General Motors Corp., discussed how technology is opening the way for cross-sector collaboration and outlined the challenges it presents at the Department of Defense Intelligence Information Systems conference in Detroit on May 3.

Two-way communications between public-private sector programs has always been a challenge because traditionally, information sharing has tended to be one-way, from the government to private industry, he said. Other weaknesses include a lack of common goals and a lack of full disclosure between partners.

According to Klein, some of the requirements for a successful partnership are:

  • Strong information sharing and communications.
  • Public and private partnerships.
  • The development of specific goals.
  • Processes, laws and regulations promoting collaboration.

Communications have improved, he said, with the introduction of smart phones and other portable electronics. Using GM as an example, Klein said that these developments have led to an increase in consumer electronics, which tends to emphasize collaboration, rather than the traditional institutional IT model.

In the case of GM’s OnStar navigation and emergency assistance capability, for example, the capability allows the company to locate stolen vehicles because vehicles in the system function as nodes in the network, he said.

Increased collaboration also raises pressing security considerations, he said. Because of the growth of personal electronics, in both GM’s products and its workforce, simple security measures are the best approach, Kline said. GM now requires all hard drives to be encrypted, and will soon require the same for flash drives.

The company also is active in both wireless and social networking. GM’s Guest Network provides ubiquitous free Wi-Fi at all of the firm’s campuses. Social networking tools are being used to provide the firm with structural cost estimates for new vehicles.

“It’s a way to focus an organization that’s literally in every time zone and get people to focus on a single topic,” he said.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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