Knowledge Preservation Project
Source: Sandia National Lab
Date: 8/6/96    Record No.: 10393
Contact: Keith Johnstone, 505-844-7633, Carmen Ward, 505-845-9824

Knowledge Preservation Project
Utilities have been looking for this one for quite a while. The Knowledge Preservation Project at Sandia National Labs is a method of preserving and retrieving video recorded knowledge of key soon-to-retire personnel. Sandia developed the methodology and software to help protect vital know-how regarding the nuclear weapons stockpile, and are getting interest in industries ranging from medical to legal to chip-making (where the problem is employee burn-out!), to provide access to the information and for use in training.

Sandia has put together the whole package, from how to do the interview preparation and recording to the database management system. They're in discussions with a probable commercializer, and welcome opportunities to explore new applications.
Summary Description (prepared by Sandia)
The Knowledge Preservation Project is designed to record on video tape the knowledge and experience of key nuclear weapon design engineers. The project attempts to capture all aspects of perishable, undocumented, nuclear weapon design, testing, and manufacturing information. Areas of discussion include technologies, components, materials, systems, and management/political interactions (as they impacted the weapons program). During the course of an interview, we attempt to define the state of technology and the technical challenges at a point in time. We probe into how problems were solved, how many solutions were proposed, what they were, and why one was selected over the others. We explore the reasons that various solutions failed and elicit suggestions for the future. We frequently ask individuals to discuss the best ideas they had that no one would listen to. The process is as follows;

Information is obtained during individual interviews and panel discussions. For individual interviews, the interviewee is asked to include 2 colleagues of his choice in the interview. The dialog established among them stimulates recollection and provides a measure of information quality control. The video taping takes place in a studio environment. Individual interviews have lasted from 2 to 18 hours (in 2 hour increments). Panel discussions focus on technologies and systems (e.g., radiation hardened electronics, B-61 safety and electrical system, etc.). A panel may consist of up to 8 individuals and is video taped before an audience. Audience participation is encouraged and also video taped. Panel discussions generally last for about 6 hours.

To date we have completed approximately 60 individual interviews and 11 panels for a total of nearly 400 hours of video. Nearly all the video is classified. The project is ongoing. DOE/HQ has asked us to consider including key Headquarters personnel and production facility personnel in the project.

We have developed the means to manage and instantly access any specific information contained within the 100's or 1000's of hours of video. The process is called Relevant Point of Access Video (RePAV). Following is a brief description of the process;

The video tape is digitized and compressed (200:1) according to the MPEG-1 Standard, and stored on a network server. The audio track is transcribed to a text document, and full-text indexed by any information management system--we used "free-ware" taken off the Internet. The audio text is linked to the digital video files in 2 minute time code intervals. Access to the video information is provided by the information management system. The user simply queries the system. Any videos that meet the search criteria are identified to the user who can access the video with a mouse click. The VHS quality video is displayed immediately on the users PC and the key search words will be spoken within 2 minutes. (The 2 minute interval is arbitrary at this point and has not been optimized.)

The full potential of this system will emerge when it is integrated into a central knowledge base with hyper-links to reports, memos, engineering drawings, other video, data, computer codes, etc. We have completed the development of the time and image dependent hyper-linking tools.