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LASER OPTICAL DISK TECHNOLOGY
Opening of Technology
During fiscal year 1984, the Information Systems Division opened technology information centers at the National Center and the Flagstaff and Denver service center sites. The centers primarily emphasize small computer technology; however, plans are underway to demonstrate how small and large computer technologies can be integrated.
The Centers provide the following capabilities:
The Survey is continuing a program to improve digital mass storage capability and to provide facilities for increasing amounts of digital scientific data. This year, the Survey and a private corporation will be testing the first production model of a new laser optical disk storage system that will provide more costeffective, easily accessible, digital data storage for scientific data bases as well as digitized images of graphs, maps, reports, and administrative records. Test applications and pilot projects are being developed with the operating divisions to evaluate the utility of this new technology. The new method will increase capacity 10 times over that of magnetic storage, with costs per character similar to that of microfiche. The National Mapping Division will test the device for storage of the Digital Cartographic Data Base, and the Information Systems Division will examine its use for various geologic and hydrologic data, streamflow graphs, text of scientific papers, and administrative records.
• Demonstrations by in-house personnel
and vendors showing the use of
A library containing a variety of
publications related to computing
• A clearinghouse for distributing
Division assistance for acquiring information about vendors, equip information technology services conment, user groups, software, and tinued during 1984. The assistance data bases developed for or acces included requirements definition, docusible with computers in the Survey; mentation preparation, regulatory
approvals acquisition, technical evalua• Consultations on equipment, software, tion of proposed computer resources, and computer acquisition; and contract administration functions, and
management of the Bureau computer • Individual instruction using computer- resource reutilization program. assisted instruction and videotapes. An automated acquisition tracking
system was designed and implemented During fiscal year 1984, the centers to provide a more effective method of were visited by over 3,000 Survey
process control, thereby enhancing the employees: Scientists who had a need to computer resource acquisition process. find out how small computer technology Over 3,500 requests for various automacan help in supporting their programs, tion products and services with expendimanagers who had a need to find out tures exceeding $50 million were prochow technology can help them to make essed this fiscal year. decisions and produce reports, admini The Division provided acquisition strators who were considering new sys assistance for the Water Resources tems to enhance office productivity or Distributed Information System, Earthwho wanted to understand more about quake Studies Program, Digitized the capabilities of those that they are Mapping Information, Marine Geology using, and ADP professionals who were Research Program, Public Inquiries
System, and the modernization of the General Purpose Computer Centers. Additional efforts include office automation projects, administrative support functions, and acquisition of the nationwide voice and data communications networks.
EARTH SCIENCE INFORMATION ACCESS AND DELIVERY
During the past year, access to and delivery of earth science information was substantially improved by the use of the Earth Science Information Network at the National Cartographic Information Centers and the Public
Inquiries Office of the Survey. The Information Systems Council is developing plans for extending the network and using it at other Survey offices to further improve the dissemination of earth science information. These changes will make products and data resulting from Survey research and investigations more readily available to inquirers.
Establishment of the Earth Science Information Center (ESIC) is scheduled to more conveniently provide needed technical assistance in analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting the products and data that are, in part, obtained by referral from the information network. The ESIC will be located in the Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C., and the capabilities of its professional staff, drawn from each of the program divisions, will help the scientific community in the Federal Government to use the results of Survey earth science activities. The staff will have available a full range of computerized reference tools and instrumentation.
Visitors can select from a variety
of videocassette tapes to
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TECHNIQUES APPLIED TO EARTH SCIENCE INFORMATION
The Survey is exploring the use of artificial intelligence concepts as they relate to earth science data bases. One approach uses systems that require teaching the computer to accept a set of
rules. These rules then are coupled with facts in a data base to provide solutions to problems. While the program is being used, more rules can be added by the user. This program will be of value in dealing concurrently with many data sets and should result in the development of new knowledge that will be retained and reported back to the researcher. Although artificial intelligence can be used in many areas, the Survey's initial work is on the subject of geographic information. In the project, Knowledge-Based Geographic Information Systems, a new form of data structure for spatial data was designed. Software has been developed to demonstrate the system, and new techniques for searching earth science and geographic data bases will result.
first was a Bureauwide evaluation of the Survey's current data and voice communications activities and an analysis of alternative future strategies. The second was the formation of the Bureaulevel Telecommunications Utility Commission. The Commission, which reports to the Council, serves as a forum to ensure that Divisions are focusing management attention on their telecommunications requirements. The Commission will review major communications acquisitions and changes and will work to equitably allocate telecommunications costs. Additionally, the Commission will review major policy issues requiring resolution by the Council.
The Information Systems Council is committed to making earth science information more accessible and used more effectively. An increasingly important challenge in scientific studies is to be able to integrate diverse earth science data sets. To this end, the Council has initiated a bureauwide project to develop a standardized system which will allow researchers and casual users to integrate and display data bases in a consistent structure.
FISCAL YEAR 1984 INFORMATION SYSTEMS COUNCIL ACTIVITIES
Digital Private Automatic Branch Exchange
The Information Systems Council, chaired by the Assistant Director for Information Systems and including policy-level representatives from the Divisions and regions, focuses on developing ADP technical policy and coordinating ADP technology within the Survey and with the Department of the Interior. In the policy area, the Council developed a chapter on Systems Life Cycle Management for inclusion in the Geological Survey Manual. The purpose of the chapter is to establish a policy for systematically managing the activities and phases during the life span of an information system. Serving in its coordination role, the Council reviewed the minicomputer procurement for the National Mapping Division's digital line graph processors and developed ideas for a policy to promote hardware and software resource sharing within the Survey.
Increased capabilities as a result of technological advances continue to offer opportunites for the Survey to distribute small computers to its many field locations. Consequently, communications are becoming a critical factor in ensuring access to these distributed computers and in facilitating sharing of data and software among them. In recognition of the essential nature of these communications, the Information Systems Council undertook two actions this year. The
The Division participated in the acquisition of the digital Private Automatic Branch Exchange, the new telephone systems for Reston and Menlo Park. The systems will provide extensive support to data and state-of-the-art voice communications capabilities.
Communications Network Services
A Request for Proposals to acquire the use of a nationwide computer network was prepared for release. The network will permit connection of Survey computers as host computing resources and will provide access to these resources for all local and remote location users. The network is expandable and will permit new technology to be installed and used throughout the life of the contract. This service will replace many fragmented communications facilities and will result in a unified
ing office. A multiuser computer system is in the final stages of testing.
Rapid Expansion of Small Computer Use
notification is accomplished from geographically separate offices of the Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering of the Geologic Division. A small computer in Reston receives the information and automatically forwards it to other small computers in the homes of key personnel.
The Budget Information Management System provides a similar reporting mechanism for the accrual of Survey financial information. Information on individual programs is stored on general-purpose computers and can be obtained on demand for inclusion at the small computer level into a framework of spreadsheet information.
The purpose of the multiuser system is to investigate the application of small computer technology and local area networks to reduce the time it takes to process paperwork in the Survey train
The Survey is in the forefront in the use of small computers in the Federal Government, with over 700 units now operating
These small computers have enabled Geological Survey scientists and administrative personnel to accomplish many tasks in a more efficient and timely manner; for example, electronic spreadsheets permit an employee to do "what if" analysis on financial information, and, because budget allocation can quickly be analyzed in a total context, much more accurate predictions can be made.