NASA’s Knowledge Management Architecture

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Jeanne Holm, Chief Knowledge Architect for NASA/JPL shared the story of Knowledge Management at NASA and gave us an overview of the KM architecture.

Framework for Knowledge Management at NASA/JPL

NASA has 80,000 people (including  18,00 civil servants) and about 140,000 people involved. NASA Projects can last a very long time. Her first project, Voyager is a 50 - year project. How do you sustain knowledge across a project with that kind of lifetime? That's what KM is all about

A framework for knowledge sharing:
PEOPLE - Enable remote collaboration; support communities of practice; reward and recognize knowledge sharing; encourage storytelling
PROCESS - enhance knowledge capture; manage information
TECHNOLOGY - Enhance system interoperability; Utilize intelligent agents; Exploit expert systems and sematic technologies

NASA KM Strategy
  • Sustain knowledge across missions and generations.
  • Help people find, organize and share the knowledge we already have
  • Increase collaboration and to facilitate knowledge creation and sharing

Jeanne created an excellent slide deck so I won't attempt to recreate here. Be sure to look at her slides on the NASA KM site. (I'll try to post links from hotel tonight.)

NASA Public Portal:

Jeanne shared the story of the almost accidental launch of the NASA web site. They launched 2 days before the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Instead of projected 140,000 hits, they has 170 million hits. This unfortunate event, put the NASA portal on the map - the world wide web map.

What Jeanne found was that visitors don't just come, graze and leave. They come and return... Content needs to be fresh and relevant.

NASA is doing many things to make this happen. The deputy administrator is even blogging!  (Are you listening corporate CEOs?)

Next step: Creating a learning organizational culture at NASA

Trying to integrate processes for knowledge capture, sharing, and reuse into the process.  Lessons learned are pumped into the communities. (And users can subscribe).

Mostly open source; using Web 2.0 tools, such as POPS (people, organizations, projects, and skills) that integrates social awareness to show searcher's relationship to the people found. How to determine an expert? One way is to find out who's published this week. (Interesting).  And of course, Wikis blogs, and IM.  (Next action: ask Jeanne if she can arrange a demo for me.)

Note: Interesting use of knowledge visualization tools on search (Think The Brain) to display results.

Web 2.0 technologies at NASA
- Integrated approach to ensuring best practices and key lessons learned applied on missions.
- Semantic Seek -  Searching engineering expertise and knowledge (MIT, Sir Tim Berners-Lee)
- Explorer island - Second Life immersive avatar-driven environment for collaboration and education.

In a two year period JPL moved from 4 large missions a year to 42. They really needed KM tools.

Took a look at the cultural process (e.g questions asked during a review) to group knowledge capture best practices.

NASA has an internal academy (APPEL) focused on providing leadership in knowledge management.

Lessons Learning
- Integrated with NASA Engineering network
- Integrate lessons to policy, standards, and procedures.
- and more (slide change)

Knowledge Management Roadmap
Sharing Knowledge
Integrating Distributed Knowledge
Capturing Knowledge (move capture closer to point of origin)
Modeling Expert Knowledge

(Note: go back and take a look at the slides for this.)

NASA KM Program:
NASA Portal:


Discussion/Comments (0):

Discussion for this entry is now closed.