The last challenge is to keep the knowledge repository functional. This may involve the regular updating of content as content changes (e.g. as price lists are revised). But it may also involve a deeper analysis of the knowledge content. Some content has a considerable longevity, while other knowledge dates very quickly. If a repository of knowledge it to remain active over a period of time, it is essential to know which parts of the knowledge base must be discarded and when. Other problems involved in maintenance include verifying and validating the content, and certifying its safety.
In knowledge maintenance, the challenge is to ensure the continuing usability of knowledge models and other artefacts after creation and their original exploitation; clearly this is a prerequisite of reuse. We will be applying our experience on essential post-development maintenance issues, such as verification and validation, certification and auditing. Tool support, e.g. debugging tools, will also be an issue we will be addressing.
Verification and validation of the content of knowledge repositories is in the heart of knowledge maintenance. AKT is focusing on the checking of consistency in such repositories, whether they are conventional systems such as knowledge bases, or less structured resources such as web pages. AKT is also providing tools for visualising, browsing and editing ontologies and other structured repositories, which of course can be used for maintenance as well as development.
Another line of inquiry is to examine the certification requirements for knowledge-based resources. Certification of software is a process whereby the software undergoes a rigorous testing regime, and the methods used to build it are scrupulously examined to ensure that robust methodologies were followed sufficiently closely. Knowledge-based resources, which often have many more degrees of freedom of performance than standard software, will require a strong certification process, the ideal elements of which need definition.
The management of the maintenance process - which may include complex operations like updating and consistency retention - is also under the AKT spotlight. For instance, the importance of communities of practice for maintaining corporate memory and disseminating best practice has long been recognised, but so informal are such groups that their fostering and exploitation are very difficult. AKT is developing software that can aid the identification of communities of practice - patterns of cooperation - from the evidence of ontologies of relevant domains and organisations.
Knowledge auditing is the focus of a great deal of AKT effort, looking at ways to map out the "knowledge space" in an organisation, to throw light on what knowledge it has that is redundant, what knowledge it does not have but requires, what knowledge it could exploit (e.g. patent), and what knowledge is not being used to its full advantage. A related topic is that of knowledge valuation, attempting to conceptualise knowledge as an intangible asset of an organisation and as such apply value metrics to it in order to shed light on the auditing issues.
If the value of some knowledge is lower than the cost of its maintenance, then it can be inferred that that knowledge is "past its sell-by date". Furthermore, knowledge can be acquired with a "sell-by date" attached to it. AKT is also examining the issues underlying the obsolescence - the forgetting - of knowledge whose maintenance is no longer worth the effort. Like updating, there are a number of problems that forgetting causes, such as the retention of consistency and completeness; forgetting is a non-trivial problem.
AKT Technologies addressing issues in Knowledge Maintenance --