Institutional Imaging: Sharing the Campus Image

Carl Jacobson
University of Delaware
Newark, Delaware

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Institutional Imaging:
Sharing the Campus Image

Carl Jacobson
University of Delaware

The University of Delaware's campus-wide information system, U-
Discover! uses the Gopher client-server software developed by the
University of Minnesota, to provide an easy-to-use, wide-reaching
information service.

Delaware is currently integrating photographic and document
imaging with U-Discover! text to provide an exciting and effective
new level of service. One such application provides access to
institutional photographic and historical records. A library of
two-thousand 35mm color slides, depicting campus facilities,
programs and activities, has found a home in U-Discover!

This library may be browsed by faculty, staff and students to
locate and identify slides for use in publications or
presentations. Text-to-image links allow full-text description
searches to return color images across the campus network to PC,
Mac and UNIX workstations.

Using inexpensive hardware and freely-available software,
Delaware's campus-wide delivery of institutional images is easy,
inexpensive and highly effective and has become a model for future
multi-media services on our "electronic campus".

The National Information Super-Highway

In recent months, there has been a great deal of press regarding
the National Information Infrastructure proposed by the Clinton
Administration. Information technologists in institutions of
higher education will certainly make important contributions to
this ambitious endeavor.

For this national information network to properly serve the public
interest it must be a "pedestrian" offering. That is, although
this is to be a high-powered, high-technology data highway, it
must reach out to our homes and offices, schools and industries in
a "common, ordinary" manner. It cannot be reserved for super-
scientists, well-heeled corporations, or those with technical or
financial advantage. To meet its stated goals, this highway must
be well travelled, by many, from all walks of life. It must
deliver utility and services to student and farmer, teacher and
law-maker, expert and novice alike.

The technical and logistical challenges of this undertaking will
require a great deal of time and money invested at the national
level. But another challenge requires more immediate attention. As
institutions of teaching, research and public service, we must
begin to understand the implications of our roles as information
providers. While the details of a information infrastructure are
debated, we must look inwardly to identify our valuable
information holdings and to determine how they might be easily
shared on a national network designed to serve the public

Campus Information Highways

While the national effort will insure that the network is far
reaching and "pedestrian", we must insure that the information
content is useful and valuable. As "form follows function", even
in terms of information technologies, then rich content implies
the need for rich information types. We must be prepared to
deliver more than record-oriented, character-based data. Our
challenge is to capture, prepare and distribute information
resources of many types; text, rich text, image, animation, audio,
full-motion video and more.

There are many issues associated with the "care and feeding" of
these information types. And while parallels may be drawn between
the familiar, traditional information technology methods and the
methods required by these newer technologies, there will also a
great deal of new ground that must be broken. Where do we start?

Information Type: Image

The University of Delaware has begun to take steps to better
understand what the future holds. To learn more about the delivery
of "non-traditional" information services, we have initiated
several institutional imaging projects.

An informal survey of imaging projects on today's campuses
indicates that most fall into the category of document imaging;
that is, storing images of paper-work; admissions applications,
purchase requisitions, and the like. Furthermore, these documents
are found to reside primarily on departmental servers; delivering
service in support of departmental processing requirements.

Quite recently the cost of this type of imaging has plummeted...
$1000 personal computers with $500 software on inexpensive local
area networks can deliver document imaging services at a very low
cost-per-seat. However it is difficult or expensive to "scale up"
such applications to make these image services available to many
or all members of the campus community. When planning for a
digital highway of a pedestrian nature we must "start at the top"
with a campus-wide distribution scheme and then, if necessary,
hone in on departmental needs to focus effort, add security, and
enhance functionality.

Pilot Project: Photographic Images

Our initial pilot project found it roots in a collection of 35mm,
photographic slides owned by an administrative department, the
Office of Public Relations (PR). The PR slide library holds over
20,000 photographic slides which are used in campus publications
and presentations and chronicle the history and events of our
institution. The scope of the initial project focused on a
collection of 2,000 actively used, "exemplar" photographs, to be
called the "Campus Collage".

Prior to our pilot, the PR slide originals were filed in loose-
leaf notebooks and indexed in a flat-file database. This single-
user, PC database contained a short description and identifying
information for each slide. In order for a campus user to locate
needed slides, a PR staff member would perform simple keyword
searches against the database to retrieve slide numbers.

These slides would then be physically retrieved from the
collection of 20,000 for previewing. Once a needed slide was
found, the slide number was recorded and slide copies were ordered
directly from PR. This process was time-consuming, labor
intensive, and restrictive, and required the physical handling of
the original photographic masters.

Objectives of the pilot project included: opening the library to a
wider audience, providing for remote access and self-service
browsing, and reducing the amount of handling of the original
slide masters. These objectives were to be achieved by digitizing
the exemplar collection, loading the collection for accessibility
on the campus network, and linking text descriptive and
identifying information with the image collection to facilitate
location of needed slides.

Establish Common Denominators For Wide-Spread Access

To reach the widest possible audience with an effective level of
service, several common denominators were identified. U-Discover!,
Delaware's campus-wide information system was already well
established thanks to the many strengths of the University of
Minnesota's Gopher protocol. Gopher client and server software was
widely distributed among campus information users and data

CompuServe's GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) was selected for
the storage of campus images. The GIF standard was designed to be
a public domain offering for low-overhead transmission of images
to CompuServe subscribers. It is a commonly used format, supported
by a following of free or low-cost software.

The Super VGA (SVGA) image resolution of 640x480 pixels, 256 color
palette, was adopted as a display standard to take advantage of
the large number of SVGA capable equipment on campus, while
placing limitations on the reproduction of these copyrighted
images. A GIF image displayed at this resolution looks nearly
photographic and is suitably handled by lesser quality VGA and
gray-scale monitors.

Digitize Photographic Slides

Two methods of digitizing slides are employed at the University of
Delaware. A service bureau may be used to place digitized slide
images on CD-ROM, or a self-service approach may be taken using
PC-based slide scanning hardware.

The KODAK Photo CD service was selected for the Campus Collage
pilot. The KODAK Photo CD process allows up to 100 35mm color
slides to be stored on a single CD-ROM. This service is provided
for under $1 per slide at nearly any local photography store.

The KODAK process stores a single, very-high resolution file for
each slide. The file is formatted in such a way that it may be
retrieved in any one of 5 different resolutions. This allows low
quality versions of the image to be quickly retrieved while
providing for the storage of large, publications-quality images.
Advantages of the KODAK process include the outsourcing of the
labor-intensive slide handling as well as the creation of
permanent, image masters. The shelf life of digitized images is
considerably longer than that of slides.

While the KODAK process targets home as well as commercial use,
small jobs are easily handled. A collection of two dozen slides
may be placed on a Photo CD on one occasion, and an additional
slide collection may be added to that physical CD at a later date,
up to the 100 slides limit. Turnaround for this service varies
from three-days to one-week.

Nearly a quarter of the PR photographic library consists of 2 1/4"
format, however the Photo CD process currently supports only 35mm
format. KODAK has announced plans to support 2 1/4" format by the
end of the year.

For small slide libraries, or those requiring a more hands-on
approach, inexpensive, high-quality slide scanners are now
available. The Nikon CoolScan slide scanner has been used with
great success at our institution. At approximately $2300 the slide
scanner provides an economical alternative, producing a high-
quality digital image in about 5 minutes. Currently the Nikon
scanners support only 35mm format.

Prepare Digital Images for Storage

We are pleased to be able to pay a service provider to do our
digitizing, because even with a Photo CD in hand, there is still a
considerable amount of work to be done to prepare 100 images for

Each image is retrieved from the Photo CD in a mid-level
resolution at 768x512 pixels, using Adobe's Photoshop software.
The picture is visually reviewed for color, brightness, and
contrast. Photoshop allows adjustments if necessary, but they are
rarely required. The orientation of the image is confirmed. On
occasion we have encountered images scanned upside down. The
Photoshop software selects a 256-color palette that best meets the
requirements of the picture and saves the image in a GIF file,
reducing the resolution to 640X480 pixels.

A single image production station was configured to support the
preparation of images. This modest workstation consists of a 33Mhz
Intel 486sx with 8MB of RAM, 170MB local disk, a Toshiba CD-ROM
player, a Nikon CoolScan slide scanner, Adobe Photoshop software
and an ethernet connection. Most of today's CD-ROM drives support
the Photo CD standard.

As the PR images are property of the institution, a copyright
statement is added to the margin of each image. KODAK has
announced plans for providing this service by the end of the year.
In addition a black background is added to frame the picture and
fill any unused portion of the screen. Both of these additions can
be done manually, using software such as Photoshop, but we have
automated this process. Both copyright and black mat are added
programmatically after the image files are stored on the server.

The reviewed and edited image is stored on a shared network drive
on a UNIX server to later be loaded into a Gopher directory. Each
image is stored as a single file. These files are arranged in
Gopher directories using pointers. Gopher allows several such
pointers, or Gopher links, to reference a single information item.
In this manner slide images may be organized in several different

Prepare Associated Text For Storage

Each slide image is described in some detail in a brief narrative.
Information such as subject, photographer, date, location, slide
number, and CD-ROM number is included in this description.

A wordprocessor file is created documenting each image. Macros and
scripts are used to automate the creation of an ASCII-text file
for each image and build descriptive file names for both text and
image files. These long UNIX file names consist of a 38-character
slide title, date, and number. While both text and associated
image files have identical names, they are placed in different
Gopher directories.

WAIS indexing software, a tool commonly used by Gopher
administrators, is run on both directories to create full-text
indexes against the written descriptions and the image titles. A
full-text search item is added to the slide image directory
allowing these descriptions and image titles to be searched.

Load Images and Text on Server

Inexpensive workstations from Sun Microsystems are employed as
text and image servers at Delaware. Such servers commonly range
from low-end Sun IPC and Classic models priced in the $3500-$4500
range to larger, more powerful Sun LX and Sun 10 models. Magnetic
disk capacity may be added to these servers for less than $1000
per gigabyte. At 100KB per image, 10,000 images require 1GB of
image storage.

While the Sun workstations have become the standard for such
servers on our campus, the Gopher software is suitable for other
platforms, including inexpensive and popular MacIntosh

Software required to support the server function includes Gopher
sever software and WAIS indexing software, both in the public

Distribute Client Software

The University of Delaware supports Gopher client software for
each popular campus platform. For DOS users; UGopher from the
University of Texas. For Windows; Martyn Hampson's HGopher from
Imperial College, UK. Mac users employ TurboGopher while UNIX
users employ the UNIX Gopher client, both developed by the
University of Minnesota.

Image viewers must be associated with each Gopher client to enable
the display of GIF images. Public domain, or site-licensed viewers
were selected to allow widespread distribution to students,
faculty and staff. DOS Ugopher users employ CompuShow from Canyon
State Systems, while Mac TurboGopher users have adopted JpegView
developed by Aaron Giles. Users of the Windows HGopher client use
LView, freeware from Leonardo Loureiro and UNIX XGopher users are
running the XV X-Windows viewer.

To address software update and version control concerns, current
versions of Gopher clients and GIF viewers are available to
members of the campus community across the network using Gopher
itself. Directories for DOS, Windows, Mac and UNIX users contain
self-extracting archives which store the program files for each
application in a compressed format. Selecting such an item from a
Gopher directory causes the program files to be loaded across the
campus network and uncompressed on the hard drive of the client

Several local modifications have been made to the Gopher clients
we distribute to our campus users. These range from authenticated
access of student records information, to support for our campus-
wide electronic forms system. Whenever possible these changes are
made external to the Gopher client using "viewers".

Such changes have been made in support of the imaging effort and
are exemplified by a modification to the UGopher text viewer that
enables an automated linking of text with image. An index search
returns text, the press of a key displays the associated image.


While the goal of this information service is wide-spread access,
there are most certainly limitations to the scope of service.

Connectivity--The Gopher client/server protocol is an Internet
protocol so that an ethernet connection to the campus backbone is
required of all clients. Character-based gopher clients are
provided on campus for users of central time-share system, but
image retrieval is not available to these users.

Resolution--As standard display monitors operate in the range of
70-90 pixels per inch, the SVGA image of 640x480 pixels, 256
colors provides an image that appears nearly photographic. The
SVGA resolution of our digitized images cannot match the quality
of original film images, however it is better than video and
certainly suitable for today's personal computers.

Projection--When overhead projection of digital images is
employed, the success or failure depends on the degree of loss of
resolution, color and brightness. Currently available projection
equipment is limited to SVGA resolution with loss of brightness
being a common complaint. While projection of such digital images
may not yet be appropriate for applications requiring detailed,
true-to-color reproductions, many routine presentation needs can
be met.

Generation Loss--Generation loss refers to the incremental
degradation of picture quality that takes place with the making of
each copy: a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy... While the
digitizing process produces a loss in resolution and color, once
an image has been digitized the file can be transferred, copied
and reproduced digitally without further loss. It is important
that, whenever possible, film originals are used to create the
digital masters.

Network--At 100KB-200KB each, our Campus Collage photo images are
quickly and effectively delivered across our current network. We
have an 80MB fiber-optic campus backbone, with 10MB ethernets in
each building. All residence halls are wired for ethernet and by
the end of the year, the saturation wiring of classroom and
offices will be completed.

One limiting factor of our current network is an older router
technology that causes information to pass through our network
gateways at less than 1000 packets per second. Currently available
technology would allow this rate to approach 180,000 packets per
second. The replacement of these slower routers is planned for the
near future.

Compression--Compression is the process of reducing the file size
needed to store or transmit an image. Larger images, or images of
higher resolution require higher network speeds or data
compression. Effective image compression is available today in
image formats such as JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group). JPEG
compression and decompression can be performed by software, or
with the assistance of compression accelerator boards. Generally
speaking this type software compression slows the file transfer
process significantly, necessitating the use of JPEG compression
boards. However, recent developments in JPEG compression routines
have shown improvements in software compression.

While our "Campus College" is deliberately restricted to SVGA
resolution images, if the future calls for the delivery of higher-
resolution images our Photo CD masters ensure the availability of
such images.

Security and Access--Campus Collage is accessible from any
location on the Internet. Text and image collections may easily be
restricted to on-campus-only access, or to access from a physical
network subnet or node. Restricting access by individual user is
not easily administered using current versions of Gopher software
but it is possible to write Gopher servers to provide
authenticated access.

Copyright--The slides in our PR library are property of the
institution. We have opted for widest distribution and therefore
retain little control. We protect our rights in two ways, one
technical and one legal. The images made available on the network
are moderately low-resolution images and therefore have little
reproduction value. High-resolution images are kept off-line on
the original CD-ROM for use by campus publications.

A copyright statement "Copyright UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE, All
Rights Reserved" is placed on every PR slide image and delivered
across the network. Instead of preventing access to the images, we
make our work available and expect property rights to be honored.

For images needing more protection there are several options.
Access restrictions may be placed on servers limiting access to
on-campus locations. Lower resolution, or "thumb nail", images may
be distributed for browsing. Watermark statements, such as "PROOF"
may be placed across the face of the images making them unusable.

Features--Minnesota's Gopher is a wide-reaching but general-
purpose implementation. It cannot compete in the arena of image
features, with LAN-based, vendor-produced image librarians.

However, the allure of Gopher lies in its ability to provide wide-
reaching, democratic access. And, in fact, as Gopher clients are
built on the principle of "object viewers", there is no reason
more sophisticated image-aware gopher clients cannot be created.
Special-purpose gopher clients could allow display of thumbnail
images in directory format. Or a "Presentation Gopher" could be
used to delivery "Internet slideshows" in the classroom. A "Touch-
screen Gopher" could enable campus kiosk users to easily browse a
collection of annotated photos for a tour of campus.

While current Gopher-based image libraries might be described as
feature poor, they are distribution rich... distributing rich
information resources to even the "poorest" of our network users.

Other Applications

While the Campus Collage was created to facilitate browsing of the
PR slide library, it has already been used to deliver live,
across-the-network presentations. Our president has made two such
presentations, one to members of the Board of Trustees. Additional
"administrative" imaging applications have been identified.

Internet Slide Show--Delaware recently re-engineered the student
services business processes and in doing so, created a new student
services building which has been widely heralded by the student
population. Neighboring institutions have shown considerable
interest in this successful project and we have hosted many

An "Internet tour" was developed to allow interested institutions
to learn more about the project without setting foot on campus.
This tour, which includes annotated slide images, sample screen
images from our student kiosks and text to providing an overview
of our approach, was created in one afternoon. This is an
"administrative" use of Internet delivery of image and text
resources, however, similar use may deliver academic services.

Digital Photography--While our initial pilot targeted the
conversion of 35mm slide to digital images, currently available
still cameras can produce digital pictures more directly. The
efficiency and utility of this equipment places it high on the
list of "data capture" hardware for a campus photo-image service.

At Delaware product review has begun leading to the replacement of
the current ID card production equipment with a digital-
photography system. This would create a database of identifying
photos of all students, faculty and staff that could be used in
conjunction with many campus information functions.

The university's facilities and construction department conducts
regular project reviews of campus construction projects. In
addition, the president and other university executives share the
progress of such projects with interested committees, parent and
student groups. For the most part, the progress of the
construction projects moves at such a pace that 35mm slide shows
are quickly outdated. The use of digital photography would enable
images to be disseminated on the campus network as a "same day"

Document Imaging--The University of Delaware: A History by John A.
Munroe is a 448 page book that chronicles the history of our
institution. As the University owns all rights to this text, there
are no copyright issues preventing electronic distribution. The
book was scanned twice, once to capture the actual page images,
with photos and illustrations, and once for OCR (Optical Character
Recognition) input to create a text-only version of the document.
The text-only file allows full-text searching against the document
and is linked to the page images. Therefore a topic search returns
the text and the press of a key display the actual page image.

Academic Applications--While the first pilot projects at Delaware
target "administrative" information, the methods and results may
easily be transferred to "academic" applications. With ethernet
connections in every dormitory room, classroom and public
computing site, image delivery targeting students, faculty and
researchers have great utility. Investigation of such applications
are now underway with the preparation of slide libraries from
several academic departments.


This practical application of technology delivers useful and
significant service to members of our electronic campus.
Institutional imaging is easy, inexpensive and wide-reaching. The
pilot project serves as a model for the management of other non-
traditional data types and has begun to lay the foundation for our
digital future.

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