ISYS and the
United States Marine Corps
Remember that famous World War II photo where members
of the United States Marine Corps raised the US flag at Mount Suribachi
in Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945? Did you know they used a piece of
Japanese pipe as a mast or that of the five brave US Marines and a Navy
hospital corpsman that fought to erect that flag, three were dead before
Iwo Jima was secured? Ever wanted to know their names?
Details like this and a wealth of other Marine Corps historical
information is now available to the public at the Gray Marine Corps
Research Center's (GRC) site: http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/MCRCweb/index.htm.
Historians, researchers, students, planners, instructors, writers and
even individuals who are simply interested in accumulating this type
of knowledge for their next trivia game night can access over 200,000
historical documents on the GRC site.
The GRC implemented the ISYS search engine on this site
to allow patrons of all kinds, including the Public Broadcasting Service
(PBS) to quickly access specific information pertaining to their research
The Marine Corps University Research Archives was created in 1990 to
preserve the historical documents of the Marine Corps University (MCU),
the personal papers of active duty and former Marines and other historically
In 1991, the MCU Research Archives assumed an additional
responsibility as the sole repository for all Marine Corps historical
film, slides and videotape. When donations of maps, documentation of
past war campaigns and other historical information are received, the
archivists declassify, archive and keep the records in the national
archive for the Marine Corps. In 1998, the Commandant directed the Marine
Corps Historical Center to transfer all of its personal papers collections
to the archives to facilitate their use by the MCU and Marine Corps
Combat Development Command staff, students and faculty.
The MCU recognized the importance of providing its students with a Masters
Program. In order to achieve this, MCU had to become an accredited University.
The accreditation process prompted the original stipulation for distributing
information electronically to every marine in the world. One of the
requisites for achieving accreditation is a Distance Learning Program.
However, the students at the time could only access historical
documents by physically going to the Research Center or requesting that
the information be copied and sent to them. The MCU Research Archives
maintains approximately nine million copies of historical documents
and audiovisual items in a 5,000 cubic foot, climate-controlled storage
area and a separate visual information repository. Not only did this
make it inconvenient for the students to access and study this information,
but the process threatened the material itself. Many of the historical
documents were very old and being constantly handled was damaging them
and threatening the existence of many.
Faced with the challenge of finding a solution to scan,
store and search the archived information, the GRC looked to Winnona
Savoy-Rogiers, Applications Analyst at AnviCom, a firm that specializes
in providing Information Technology support services to the US Government.
"The materials date as far back as the 1700s and
often only one copy exists. We needed a system that allowed for scanning,
storing and searching of these documents in an efficient manner. We
had to allow students access this pertinent information without causing
any damage to the documents. In addition, the information available
was never to leave the research center," says Winnona Savoy-Rogiers.
Prior to ISYS, the MCRC used two separate types of database
to provide information to patrons - one for text and another for images.
The software limited access to the databases to only one or two patrons
at a time and didn't allow for connection to the Internet.
"The US Marine Corps was faced with the challenge
of finding an information management solution that would satisfy the
regulations of becoming an accredited university without compromising
the integrity of the information they possessed," says Savoy-Rogiers.
The MCU Research Archives began a program to digitize key components
of its collection and currently over 200,000 documents have been scanned
and stored. The MCU Research Archives selected ISYS to power its website
for distribution of 30GB of electronic historical documents. ISYS is
used to create various databases to store a variety of documents that
include maps, charts, photos, operational orders, research papers, manuals
and books. ISYS allows for thousands of patrons to connect to these
disparate databases of valuable information and perform simple or advanced
searches on the historical documents.
"Entrusting our data to ISYS eliminates the constant
handling of documents, thus preserving the documents and encouraging
education among students and patrons," says Savoy-Rogiers.
The MCU Research Archives went through a rigorous evaluation
process in selecting their information management solution. "We
evaluated several vendors and selected ISYS for its high performance
ability to combine text and images, easy indexing features and its compatibility
with so many different file types," states Savoy-Rogiers.
ISYS provides a formal foundation for processing structured
and unstructured data and a way to migrate all or parts of data into
one database. "While the other systems had technical merit, they
did not allow for the critical element of editing the scanned documents.
Each scanned file must be an exact duplicate of the original document;
misspelled words must remain misspelled. Therefore, having the capability
to edit the scanned document was paramount. No other system gave us
While the original contract focused on giving the Marine
Corp University the means to provide research information to their students,
the site has since evolved to provide a range of patrons including MCU
planners, instructors, students and researchers with this historical
"We didn't anticipate the importance of this information
to the wide range of visitors we currently have. Even PBS uses this
site regularly when researching for information for their films and
documentaries," says Savoy-Rogiers.
The Benefits of ISYS
With most organization-wide software, implementation is a long and painful
process. The ISYS value proposition is clear and compelling: in offering
an easy and quick installation, organizations can focus on the important
end result of distributing information and allowing patrons to gain
the knowledge they need.
"ISYS has enabled us to fulfil our obligation to
provide documents electronically to the Marine Corps' clients, students
and patrons around the world. It has proven to be affordable and easy
to work with. ISYS has performed expertly for us for five years,"
One of the largest benefits of ISYS is its ease of use
to the end-user. "I have given several demonstrations of ISYS to
all types of people, dignitaries, students, scholars and those from
all walks of life. They all were able to use the software independently
of instructions," says Savoy-Rogiers.
"We plan to use ISYS to its full capabilities and
will recommend ISYS to anyone interested in developing a data management
project," notes Savoy-Rogiers.
AnviCom, Inc. (www.anvi.com)
is a 200 person, $20 million company with a ten-year track record of
providing responsive, quality IT engineering and support services to
the US Government and Department of Defense. Company headquarters are
in Dunn Loring, VA near Washington, DC.