Development of Knowledge Portals for Nuclear Power Plants - document as published

Jump to: navigation, search

As published.png




The importance of knowledge management in the safe and efficient operation of nuclear power plants (NPPs) has been increasingly recognized in recent years. Nevertheless, the effective sharing of knowledge continues to be a challenge, and many staff in operating NPPs and/or utilities may be unaware of the existence of even explicit knowledge/information, let alone implicit or informally documented knowledge, held by other staff, which would assist them in the effective discharge of their duties [1]. The issue of knowledge management has become especially significant due to the recent hiatus in NPP construction/development and the associated loss by resignations and retirements of significant numbers of experienced personnel, who often take large amounts of important, undocumented knowledge with them [2, 3]. Some of the potential benefits of effective knowledge management and sharing include:

• Providing all NPP management and staff with the information tools to ensure that safety and security are appropriately considered in all aspects of an NPP’s life cycle;

• Increasing staff productivity by reducing the time taken to access necessary information; and providing information in a more useful form;

• Providing NPP management with powerful data management tools for an effective overview of plant performance and activities;

• More effective decision making based on access to needed knowledge;

• In an increasingly competitive energy environment, knowledge is being recognized as a key element of human capital with significant commercial value.

Successful and effective nuclear knowledge management programs should meet the following high level objectives as appropriate:

• Achieve safe operation and maintenance of all nuclear facilities by sharing of operational experience;

• Achieve gains in economics and operational performance through effective management of knowledge;

• Maximize the flow of nuclear knowledge from one generation to the next and attract, maintain and further develop a dedicated cadre of highly competent professional staff to sustain nuclear competence;

• Facilitate innovation to achieve significant improvements in the safe, economical operation of all new nuclear projects;

• Achieve responsible use by properly identifying and protecting sensitive knowledge from improper use.


This publication is intended to provide guidance for Member State nuclear power plant (NPP) personnel responsible for the knowledge management programmes implementation, to help them establish a portal to serve knowledge management (KM) objectives.


The scope of this publication covers the main design principles and typical content of a knowledge portal for nuclear power plants. These principles and list of contents are for guidance only and are based on a combination of different designs which have been realized in various Member States, examples of which are included as attachments for information. The actual design of portals for specific NPPs/utilities should reflect the needs of those organizations.

Target users

This publication should be of benefit to anyone involved in the consideration, development or management of a knowledge portal for NPPs, including:

• Utility managers;

• Plant managers;

• Plant specialists (experts in nuclear safety, engineeering changes, maintenance, radiological protection, environmental monitoring, modelling, emergency management, etc.);

• Staff responsible for the internal communication;

• Public information officers;

• Any staff involved in the design, development or maintenance of a knowledge portal.

Purpose of a knowledge portal

Knowledge management encompasses a variety of activities including the support of operations and the effective management of human resources (coaching, mentoring, succession management etc.). However, one of the most important aspects of effective knowledge management is easy access to relevant and useful data, information and knowledge [4]. Role of a knowledge portal is to act as a gateway to users through which they could access all information they need for their activity, safe, secure and in the best quality. Hence, a knowledge portal has three primary purposes:

  1. As an integration tool. This provides easy, unified and integrated access to an organization’s own resources. Most NPPs have existing, but diverse systems for collecting and accessing important information such as plant performance parameters, operating procedures, document management, work control, training and qualification records etc. An effective knowledge portal would provide a single point of access to all of these systems and would be structured in such a way that the location and retrieval of such information would be quick and easy.
  2. As an access tool for other (internal and external) information resources. There are many useful sources of information, beyond their own organization’s resources, which can be made available to staff. In reality, many staff members are unaware of the rich and up to date documents available for their work. This includes, for example: safety standards, guidance documents and reports from IAEA, World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and regulatory bodies; INIS information; academic courses (distance learning) and libraries; government laboratories and libraries; nuclear industry forums; and training materials — both generic and plant specific. All of these could add to the support knowledge and effec- tiveness of NPP staff.
  3. As a communication tool. This enables individuals, teams and ‘communities of practice (CoP)’ to share and discuss ideas and knowledge. A key aspect of knowledge management is the ability to share and discuss information, giving it context and thus making it knowledge. An effective knowledge portal should therefore facilitate formal and informal communication between individuals, work and project teams and various CoP in real time.

The purpose of the knowledge portal is to provide a structured system for easy, computer based, access to any information (in the form of plant performance and system data, drawings, design descriptions, procedures, guides, reference material, reports, studies, training materials etc.), which can be used by staff to maintain and improve their own, and hence their NPPs, productivity and performance. In addition, the portal should provide access to relevant non-technical information, such as news, email, management and administrative information etc., and should facilitate communication and discussions between individuals and teams (functional, role based and project) for the sharing and growth of corporate knowledge.

Scope of an NPP portal

When addressing the concept of an NPP portal, two main aspects may be considered:

• Design principles of a knowledge portal. Here the functionalities of the portal are suggested in terms of principles and techniques currently in use, many of which can be found as features of products readily available on the market;

• Content. Here topics are listed that could become the content to be managed by the portal, again based on the experience of existing portal users.

The following two sections provide more details on the design and content of NPP portals based on what is presently considered good practice. These are not intended to be prescriptive lists. Rather, items of interest should be selected based on the particular needs of the NPP considering the development of a portal. They may also be useful as checklists in order to avoid accidental omission of relevant functionality and/or content [5].

Design principles of a knowledge portal

The aim of this section is to provide general guidelines for the design of portals to support information and knowledge management for NPPs. Each country, nuclear utility and NPP may have a separate set of specific requirements based on global, national and local regulatory requirements, safety standards and specific choices for enterprise data management solutions. For these reasons, it is not possible to prescribe the detailed design for a knowledge portal. The guidance presented in this and in the next section is based on feedback from a multi- national panel of industry experts who have developed, or are in the process of developing, such NPP portals for information and knowledge management. The design of the portal and the choice of underlying software and hardware tools should support the NPPs’ requirement to build and retrieve knowledge. Data at an NPP come from many systems (e.g. financial, control computers, maintenance, inspection, work orders, chemistry) and in many formats (e.g. on-line, real- time, infrequent). There is benefit in viewing data separately, but it may be more useful if grouped and structured as data with a common purpose, making it ‘information’. Portals have become an industry tool for the display and collection of such data into information. When such data are collected, they can be classified by the addition of metadata to describe the collection of information. For example, the response to an event may be collected and classified and stored to form part of the corporate knowledge. The NPP can learn from such collection of knowledge, which may itself result in changes to the requirements for the data being collected at the station. While portals may be designed corporately, their functionality should be based on the needs of the NPP, with data management philosophy and tools for the entire life cycle of the NPP. The fundamental functionality should be generic and not specific to any one application or user. Portal utilities, however, should be included to allow some user customization of the layout as well as administration tools, to control access to, and to facilitate the maintenance of the portal by qualified staff. The most effortless retrieval of knowledge would result from automatic self-customization of the portal interface to the individual user; i.e. the functions he or she uses regularly are automatically placed on the portal opening screen. A high-level ‘map’ of the five key design principles of an NPP knowledge portal is provided in Fig. 1. A much more detailed ‘design map’ based on Fig. 1, is provided in Appendix II. The appendix also contains some context to the five key design principles.

FIG. 1. High level map of portal design principles.

Typical content of a NPP portal

Asstated above, each utility/NPP will have its own situation and requirements for portal contents based on plant specific needs. However, experience has shown that there are many common requirements for information/knowledge for the efficient operation of NPPs of different designs and in different countries. Figure 2 provides a high level ‘map’ of content requirements for a knowledge portal. Once again, this list of contents is not meant to be prescriptive, but much of this content is common to existing systems and is intended to provide suggestions to developers. The portal certainly contains most or all elements described in the configu- ration management [6]. Again, a more detailed breakdown of this ‘content map’ is provided in Appendix III, also with some contextual guidance.

FIG. 2. Main categories of portal content.

Good practices for implementation

Guidelines can be provided for ‘good practices’ for:

• Developing the portal in phases: concept, design, development, field trial and implementation;

• A field trial, involving the development of a portal based on requirements and refined by testing and improvement with candidate group prior to partial or full release — is important;

• Preparing design requirements for portal from dialogue with customers and users prior to development of the portal;

• Developing and testing the portal against these design requirements;

• Developing a general portal that has functionality required for one group, while at the same time knowing that the portal will need to be applied to many groups without specializing too early;

• Openly discussing the development of the portal – rationale, background, schedule etc.;

• Providing training for all staff;

• Publishing a portal description;

• Setting up a knowledge map prior to design;

• Developing the portal using a team rather than an individual.

Appendix I - Defition of terms

codification. The process of converting people’s knowledge into a form to enable it to be communicated independent of those people.

configuration management. The process of identifying and documenting the characteristics of a facility’s structures, systems and components (including computer systems and software), and of ensuring that changes to these characteristics are properly developed, assessed, approved, issued, implemented, verified, recorded and incorporated into the facility documentation.

communities of practice. Networks of people who work on the similar processes or in similar disciplines, and who come together to develop and share their knowledge in that field for the benefit of both themselves and their organizations.

concept maps. Tools for organizing and representing knowledge.

critical knowledge. The knowledge established in the context of a particular position that is deemed imperative for incumbents of said position to possess before being allowed to perform associated duties and tasks independently.

document management. Systems and processes for managing documents including the creation, editing, production, storage, indexing and disposal of documents. This often refers to electronic documents and uses specific document management software.

information management. The management of an organization’s information resources with the aim of improving the performance of the organization. Information management underpins knowledge management, as knowledge is derived from information.

intranet. A computer network that functions similarly to the Internet, but the information and web pages are located on computers within an organization rather than being accessible to the general public.

knowledge. In the context of management systems, knowledge management helps an organization to gain insight and understanding from its own experience. Specific activities in knowledge management help the organi- zation to better acquire, record, store and utilize knowledge. The term ‘knowledge’ is often used to refer to bodies of facts and principles accumulated by humankind over the course of time. Explicit knowledge is knowledge that is contained in, for example, documents, drawings, calculations, designs, databases, procedures and manuals.

knowledge base. The fundamental body of knowledge available to an organization, including the knowledge in people’s heads, supported by the organization’s collections of information and data.

knowledge management. An integrated, systematic approach to identifying, managing and sharing an organi- zation’s knowledge and enabling groups of people to create new knowledge collectively to help in achieving the organization’s objectives.

knowledge management objectives. The KM objectives are the following: safety, economic, security, innovation and sustainability.

knowledge management strategy. A detailed plan outlining how an organization intends to implement knowledge management principles and practices in order to achieve organizational objectives.

knowledge mapping. A process to determine where knowledge assets are in an organization and how knowledge flows operate within the organization. Evaluating relationships between holders of knowledge will then illustrate the sources, flows, limitations and losses of knowledge that can be expected to occur.

knowledge portal. A comprehensive access structure to resources that are suitable to support the fundamental activities of knowledge management in a given knowledge domain to communicate, study and do research.

knowledge preservation. A process of maintaining an organizational system of knowledge and capabilities that preserves and stores perceptions, actions and experiences over time and secures the possibility of recall for the future.

portal. A special web page that organises access to all of the online resources relating to a topic, similar to providing a ‘one stop shop’.

records management. Processes relating to the generation, receipt, processing, storage, retrieval, distribution, usage and retirement of an organization’s records.

taxonomy. A hierarchical structure in which a body of information or knowledge is categorized, allowing an under- standing of how that body of knowledge can be broken down into parts, and how its various parts relate to each other. Taxonomies are used to organize information in systems, thereby helping users to find it.

Note: For more definitions of terms in the field of nuclear knowledge management, see Ref. [1]; in the field of nuclear safety, see Ref. [7].

Appendix II

FIG 1. Detailed design principles map for a knowledge portal.

Design principles of a knowledge portal

Portal functionality

  • The portal should support collaborative tools for sharing information between groups of users. These will have closed or open access, permit collaboration between both internal and external users, which could include contractors and suppliers. The ability to access group calendars is a benefit, as are forums (electronic, on-line) for discussion.
  • The portal needs to support, as much as possible, the existing and future functionality (software, hardware) at the station. If not, choices may affect future implementation. The portal and utilities should be developed based on the requirements rather than just what is available.
  • The ability to get data out of the utility information systems is important – data search and ‘web crawler’ functionality can enhance access. Aim is to reduce the time required to retrieve requested information. Care should be taken to develop a taxonomy for plant use – this will help with the layout of the portal, and will assist with the storage and classification of existing and future data.
  • The portal should support plant process monitoring.
  • The portal should support process oriented knowledge management.
Collaborative tools

These principles should provide means and tools for communication/data sharing between communities of practice.

  • Open and closed;
  • Internal and external;
  • Group calendar;
  • Forums.
Integration of existing systems
  • Open architecture;
  • Need to develop interfaces for exchanging data (web services).


There needs to be a powerful ‘search’ capability:

  • Capability to index various documents types/file formats;
  • Overall/global search;
  • Local search;
  • Taxonomy;
    • Categorization of knowledge:
      • Standardized vocabulary;
      • Glossary, thesaurus;
      • Ontology;
      • Multilingualism.
    • Structure of knowledge.
Plant process monitoring
  • Time resolution as ss, mm, hh, ...;
  • Data trending.

Process oriented KM
  • Work flow (2 stages, multistage);
  • Electronic signature;
  • Flags or alerts for new and updated information.

Data management

  • Stored data based on need to recover data.
  • Support electronic signatures (for documents, policies, work orders).
  • Define tools with aim to have only one version of any one database.
  • Establish data storage practices with entire life cycle of plant in mind.
  • Do not filter data too soon. It is often useful to have the original (raw) data in addition to the results, e.g., search lists, smoothing of data.
  • Ensure quality of data, checks on data entry, store only what is required.
  • Consider data storage capabilities inside the portal based on retrieveability requirements.
Document management system
  • Multi-author (check-in, check-out);
  • Version control;
  • Electronic signature;
  • Avoid duplication of data.

Whole plant life cycle
Appropriate use of data filtering
Quality of data
  • Specific;
  • Tailored for the end user.

Portal layout

  • Content on page for various levels, including corporate, utility, unit, group and user;
  • Content customized based on user groups;
  • Also, some content (limited) that user can customize.
Navigation design
  • Hierarchical nature of the structure providing for more progressively detailed elaboration of each information package;
  • Based on taxonomy.
User interface
  • Pre-built templates;
  • Consistent layout;
  • Optimized use of graphics;
  • Readability.
  • Scope of user control,
  • Mail;
  • Calendar;
  • Personalized pages.

Portal utilities

There is a series of functionalities that the portal should support in order to be useful. A representative sample of functionalities should:

  • Let business users create applications quickly and easily, without involving developers;
  • Make use of off the shelf products;
  • Provide multimedia support;
  • Facilitate OCR;
    • Paper;
    • Files;
  • Develop pre-built forms;
  • Develop knowledge mapping/representation tools;
  • Create portal help tools;
  • Facilitate semi-automatic metadata generation from taxonomy;
  • Facilitate automatic metadata generation from taxonomy (in future);
  • Initiate data trending.

Portal administration

Expandability and portability
  • User identification;
  • Access rights;
  • Single sign on to multiple applications;
  • User groups;
  • Search scope versus access rights.
Portal visibility
  • Intranet;
  • Extranet;
  • Internet.
Distribution of administrative responsibilities/rights/privileges

Appendix III

FIG 2. Detailed content map for knowledge portal.


Plant policies, strategy

  • The basic strategic plant documents should be accessible any time for all users. These documents help plant personnel to understand the future direction and what they can do to support this.
  • The documents should include information on plant mission and vision; present clear policies on safety, safety culture, QM, radiological and industrial safety. Also, this section should provide access to relevant legislation documents.
Policies (safety policy, quality policy, security policy, safety culture policies (nuclear and industrial), environmental policy, training policy, human resources policy).
Functional strategies
Management system definition and requirements
Applicable laws, regulations, requirements

Plant operation

  • From the viewpoint of knowledge management, personnel should have access to all the relevant plant operations information needed to do their work to the highest quality;
  • The information should describe work management planning, schedules, procedures, monitoring and control of site radiation conditions;
  • It should reflect all existing types of data of operating experience, including event analysis and lessons learned;
  • It should monitor corrective action implementation and contain information on major projects management and contractors evaluation.
Work management
  • Planning of the work;
  • Weekly schedules;
  • Monthly schedule;
  • Yearly schedules;
  • Outage management;
  • Long term schedules;
  • Preventive maintenance;
  • Corrective maintenance;
  • Plant improvement maintenance;
  • Monitor and control radiation exposure;
  • Monitor and control radiation contamination.
Operating experience
  • Internal and external event analysis;
  • Occurrence reports;
  • Near miss reports;
  • Benchmarking (internal and external;)
  • Lessons learned;
  • Human errors evaluation.
Corrective action management
  • Existing deficiencies;
  • Status;
  • Analysis and statistics;
  • Tracking;
Accident management
Environmental impact of the plant
Operational safety
  • Conduct of operation;
  • Work authorization;
  • Operator aids;
  • Human error reduction tools;
  • Tagging system;
  • Line up system.

Plant safety

  • Access to the plant safety information data is essential. Use of the latest information about safety indicators and reports help to develop safety culture.
  • Valid safety analysis reports, emergency procedures and other documents related to nuclear, radiological

and industrial safety should be available.

Safety reports
  • Preliminary safety analysis report;
  • Final safety analysis report;
  • Periodic safety reports;
  • PSA reports;
  • PSA applications.
Safety indicators
Emergency planning and preparedness
  • Emergency organization;
  • Emergency plans;
  • Emergency procedures;
  • Emergency information.
Safety regulations
  • Fire prevention;
  • Industrial safety;
  • Radiation protection;
  • Surveillance testing;
  • In-service inspection.

Plant management and performance information

The portal content should:

  • Include the description of management processes, their procedures and organization diagrams to help personnel do their activities in the right way;
  • Present plant performance data and provide access to information needed for plant management.
Plant management information
  • Management processes and procedures;
  • Organization structure;
  • Shift structure and schedule;
  • Minutes of meetings;
  • Administrative information;
  • Site licence;
  • Financial data;
  • Annual reviews.
Plant performance data
  • Performance monitoring;
  • Production data;
  • Operating experiences;
  • Plant performance history;
  • Performance improvement;
  • Reports of independent reviews;
  • Regulatory inspection reports;
  • Regulatory decisions;
  • Status of regulatory requirements (from inspections and decisions).
Project management
  • Strategic projects (e.g. power upgrading);
  • Modernization;
  • Investment programmes;
  • Time schedules;
  • Resource management.
Supplier relationship management
  • Evaluation;
  • Bids;
  • Contracts;
  • Supplier information database.

Plant systems data and configuration management

  • The plant system data is important for all technical personnel of the plant. It helps them access correct and validated information.
  • The data should describe the plant design and provide access to available technical and operation documentation (technical specification, drawings, procedures, defect history, modifications, etc.).
System descriptions
Technical specification
Operating procedures
Operating history
Maintenance procedures
Maintenance history
Defect history
Information on configuration changes

Human resource management

  • Human factors are a key element of the successful operation of any NPP and this view should be adequately reflected in the portal content.
  • The portal should include information related to general issues of plant human resources management such as workforce recruitment, succession and retirement plans and job descriptions. Special attention should be paid to training information. The portal should present all available on-plant training materials and tools, including e-learning technology. Also the administrative information related to training activities (planning, schedules, announcements etc.) should be available.
  • The portal should provide opportunities for protected access to relevant personal data of each staff member. This category should include frequently used information such as contact data, vacancies, personnel performance results etc.
Human resource information
  • Workforce plan;
  • Relevant demographic data;
  • Recruitment plans;
  • Succession plans;
  • Retention plans;
  • Individual development plans;
  • Personnel performance appraisal results;
  • Job descriptions;
  • Vacancies.
  • Training programme;
  • Training materials;
  • Training techniques;
  • Training schedules;
  • Full scope simulator;
  • E-learning;
  • Qualification records;
  • Pre-job briefing packages;
  • Mentoring, shadowing, tutoring;
  • Industrial safety training;
  • Radiation protection training;
  • Fire protection training;
  • Emergency training for all plant workers.
Contact data
  • Internal telephone book;
  • External telephone book;
  • Internal address book;
  • External address book.

Customized pages

  • Frequently accessed applications, both internal and external, should be visible on the customized page of the user.
  • Every user should have the right to create their own page for convenient working. Navigation to important information for individual users will be direct from their own pages.
  • ‘Communities’ give the ability for users to create their own teams in different topics, to share their documents, data, information and knowledge.
Communities of practice (Discussion sites open/closed)
  • General;
  • Departmental/team;
  • Role based communities;
  • Unions.
Own pages
  • Email;
  • Calendar;
  • Web access;
  • Own links;
  • Journals.

Links, information resources

  • During the daily work, it is useful to have those links which could help to find information on external and internal websites and databases. Also some of the most often used pages are plant news, bulletins and newsletters.
  • Initially, users may not like the new portal. They may be reluctant to change and learn new things, having used the 'old intranet' with satisfaction. Hence, it is helpful to have links which support their daily routine such as vocabulary, bus time schedule, restaurant menus etc. These will encourage them to increase their use of the portal.
External links
  • Regulatory authorities;
  • IAEA:
    • IAEA safety standards;
    • IAEA documents;
  • WANO;
  • External databases;
  • Search engines.
Internal links
  • Purchasing;
  • Support services;
  • Information services;
  • List of abbreviations;
  • Vocabulary;
  • Restaurant;
  • Bus time schedule;
  • Announcements.
Plant news
  • Newsletter;
  • Newspaper;
  • Bulletin boards;


  • [1] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Knowledge Management for Nuclear Industry Operating Organizations, IAEA-TECDOC-1510, IAEA, Vienna (2006).
  • [2] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, The Nuclear Power Industry’s Ageing Workforce: Transfer of Knowledge to the Next Generation, IAEA-TECDOC-1399, IAEA, Vienna (2004).
  • [3] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Risk Management of Knowledge Loss in Nuclear Industry Organizations, IAEA, Vienna (2006).
  • [4] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Application of the Management System for Facilities and Activ- ities, IAEA Safety Standards Series No. GS-G-3.1, IAEA, Vienna (2006).
  • [5] NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE, NEI Industry Wide Process Description SS003, Information Management Process Description and Guidelines, Rep. NEI AP-907, Rev.1, NEI (2003).
  • [6] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Configuration Management in Nuclear Power Plants, IAEA- TECDOC-1335, IAEA, Vienna (2003).
  • [7] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, IAEA Safety Glossary. Terminology used in Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection, IAEA, Vienna (2007).
  • [8] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, OSART Guidelines 1994 Edition, IAEA-TECDOC-744, IAEA, Vienna (1994)