Social Software and Collaboration

Laurie Damianos using Handshake

Our sponsors are connecting like never before—agency to agency, civilian to military, and everything in between. Social networking is a game-changing factor, but the challenge is to use these tools in a trusted environment.

MITRE's role is to help sponsors use the power of communication and connection for improved outcomes. Researchers throughout the company are working to develop breakthrough technology, processes, and methods for enhancing connection, securely. Our social scientists actively research how social networking tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, can provide valuable insights into sentiment and opinion in countries around the world. This concept, called "social radar" may prove pivotal in how the U.S. and its allies prepare for and react to global political change.

A Handshake to Enhance Partnership

To understand our sponsors' challenges better, we also created Handshake, our own social-business networking platform. Handshake allows us to cultivate and support relationships among current and former employees, customers, sponsors, industry, vendors, academia, and other FFRDCs. Since we rolled out Handshake in 2009, participants have set up more than 1,600 Handshake groups with more than 14,300 users; nearly one-third of them are non-MITRE employees. Built on the open-source platform Elgg, we contribute our enhancements of the capability back to the open-source community for others to use. Handshake has received gold-level recognition from the international Intranet Innovation Awards.

With Handshake, members discuss concerns, offer comments, move projects forward, and trade ideas. We’ve now expanded our social business capabilities into a more comprehensive set of partner collaboration and business-process tools, called the MITRE Partnership Network.

Using open standards and open-source capabilities, we’re creating a trusted eco-system of content creation and co-development tools to support multi-enterprise work. In particular, we’re working to evolve the Open ID Connect identity layer, which allows seamless access to many applications by our partners. In this environment, invited members from government, industry, and academia find it even easier to interact, share information, and access project-related documents.

Handshake and the MITRE Partners Network are only two of the new ways our employees have developed collaboration systems or enhanced existing methods. This work extends across both our government-funded work and our independent research program, such as projects that investigate improving social networking across organizations. In many cases, we use our own internal corporate network to test social software tools. We examine how they're built, what features are most likely to be adopted, and what design, interface, or functionality elements people most prefer.