the effect of multiple language formats. The United Nations requires treaties to be written in English, French and the languages of the participants. As a result, there are often four or more languages contained within a treaty, but there seem to be no rules about format or the placement of the multiple languages within each document. Lehrer said one page may have the left column in English and the right one in French, the following page may have this reversed. The next page could have the top of a page in one language and the bottom of the page in another. "This posed a special problem to our software developers," he said.

To deal with the problem, Liberty IMS software engineers created an algorithm to automatically sort and separate each language within a treaty; the software then re-compiles each page as it is scanned in.

Overcoming the Obstacles

The use of multiple languages, the lack of a comprehensive volume-to-volume index, and the need to absolutely guarantee the security of every document were the major challenges faced by Liberty IMS and their partners. These obstacles were quickly overcome by modifying the standard Liberty software to handle the language separation task and provide new indexing during the scanning-in process. All U.N. treaties were 100 percent protected and secured using a combination of imaging technology and optical jukeboxes equipped with Write Once Read Many (WORM) media.

"Our Network Information Management software is the main package involved in this very important venture," said Lehrer, "and we're responsible for coordinating the overall implementation of the document imaging and optical storage applications task. We are providing the necessary software packages, hardware components and document conversion services to place all of the 600,000 current pages of treaties -- and new pages as fresh treaties are added -- into electronic form. The pages will be kept online for ease of access and are to be fully integrated into the U.N. Treaty Department's existing LAN."

Electronically storing those 600,000 documents perfectly, accurately and securely, in a minimal-size storage environment and with desktop accessibility is a model for the future. The online storage and almost immediate availability of the world's treaties are now a reality at the United Nations. The system is fully operational, making the documents accessible throughout the U.N. Treaty section.

Phase two is now in progress. It will provide treaty document access throughout the entire organization and outside its walls. Liberty IMS is developing an Internet server to place the treaties on the World Wide Web.

Ron Levine is a freelance writer based in Carpinteria, Calif. specializing in networking, storage devices and emerging technology.

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