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FCW : April 30, 2015
April 30, 2015 FCW.COM 23 generated by FWS, including GPS data-collection proto- cols for hundreds of field personnel. The collected data is replicated to a central server for daily analysis and mapping uses. Data is preserved in its native format for the official record and a duplicate copy made for analysis and other search requests. Approxi- mately 20 terabytes of data were ultimately archived and indexed for storage and retrieval. In recalling the process, Duke said: “Add people from multiple state and federal agencies along with contrac- tors all working toward a common goal in different ways. To make the matter even more complex, add encrypted laptops with least user access and people on rotations who take their laptops, cameras and USB drives with them when they are done. You have to compile data in a format that is searchable on many levels and by people who are geographically dispersed with varying levels of computer expertise.” The files he collected included Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Access tables, digital photos, PDFs, email messages as Outlook files or converted to PDFs, GPS track logs and waypoints, GIS data, and what Duke called a “myriad of miscellaneous file types.” “What I put together is more of a 20 terabyte [network- attached storage] with all of the data sorted for retrieval and archiving, and it is not in a database or in a Word document,” Duke told FCW. “I took hundreds of thou- sands of files of all types and sorted them and indexed them for retrieval.” The files arrived on a variety of media, including SD cards, USB drives, portable hard drives, laptops, desk- tops, SharePoint servers, NAS servers, CDs and DVDs. And it all came from multiple offices, Duke said. “You might have varying levels of Internet connectiv- ity and be working through changing data-compilation standards and styles,” he said. “Add thousands of digital camera images with the same names and GPS track logs with duplicate names that all need to be archived in a format supporting retrieval.” To manage it all, Duke essentially crafted a data stor- age and retrieval system. “Now when people ask me to retrieve data, I actually have a chance of finding it,” Blalock-Herod said. “I can perform a search using keywords. Before, it was in the original format in a box under my desk.” An essential function “You have entered the Data Conundrum Zone!” Duke said of his conversion efforts. “We had thousands of pieces of media with data that needed to be centralized and indexed quickly. I had to remove passwords, avert encryption, recover bad sectors and do every copy trick possible from every type of media storage possible. All of that data had to be copied to a central site and replicated in its original format for archival purposes.” Although data management is not glamorous — Duke called it “often a tedious and never-ending chore” — it’s an essential function in a modern office environment. FWS doesn’t have a price tag for the project, in part because it is difficult to put a dollar value on the end product. Nothing like it existed at the agency prior to Duke’s work. Because much of the conversion work was done in the field, none of the data was stored in the cloud. But that doesn’t seem to have had any deleterious effects. “We used to have all kinds of different media coming in,” Blalock-Herod says. “We needed data centrally stored, and we needed access to what we had. Now it’s in place, and the bottom line is [that] it works.” n Chad Hudnall is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va. “We had thousands of pieces of media with data that needed to be centralized and indexed quickly. I had to remove passwords, avert encryption, recover bad sectors and do every copy trick possible from every type of media storage possible.” — JASON DUKE, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE U.S.COASTGUARD/PETTYOFFICER3RDCLASSSTEPHENLEHMANNKURTSNIDER 0430fcw_022-023.indd 23 4/7/15 11:51 AM
April 15, 2015
May 15, 2015