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Home >> Customers >> Success Stories >> US Marine Corps

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are simply interested in accumulating this type of knowledge for their next trivia game night can access over 200,000 historical documents on the GRC site.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 needs.

History
The Marine Corps University Research Archives was created in 1990 to preserve the historical documents of the Marine Corps University (MCU), the personal papers of active duty and former Marines and other historically valuable records.

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 Challenge
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.

Solution
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 that capability."

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 information.

"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," says Savoy-Rogiers.

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.

About AnviCom
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.

 

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