DOD building video management system

To eliminate the massive amounts of time needed to manually process video and other visual media, the Defense Department wants to create the Visual Information Management System (VIMS).

Last month, DOD selected a team led by TranTech Inc. to build it. The initial seven-month deployment will establish a standardized digital asset repository that includes an e-commerce payment system and digital rights management. The four agencies selected for that phase will be able to process and store still images, video, audio, graphics and text documents in a centrally located, 20-terabyte repository that can expand to more than 100 terabytes.

Within DOD, there are about 700 activities that process and manage multimedia assets, and VIMS will first be used by the American Forces Information Service (AFIS), the Defense Visual Information Center, the Joint Combat Camera Center and the Joint Visual Information Services Distribution Activity.

Upon successful completion of the initial deployment, VIMS will be available to all DOD and other federal agencies.

By eliminating manual processing of video and other media assets, the department is hoping to increase productivity and reduce overall operating costs. During times of military conflict, VIMS will make it easier to handle surges of new content.

George Kolesar, senior vice president for business development at TranTech, said VIMS will "greatly extend the life of any visual asset gathered by [DOD]" and will be able to support content from various sources, including feeds from unmanned aerial vehicles and inspections for weapons of mass destruction.

AFIS, an element within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, awarded the multiyear, $9 million contract to TranTech May 20, and work has already begun, said Mark Wells, technical director for program development at the Alexandria, Va.-based company.

"The system will allow all government visual media offices to store, categorize, search, retrieve, distribute and deliver digital media, [and] includes revenue generation through an e-commerce engine, from a standards-based central storage system," Wells said.

Virage Inc.'s SmartEncode products will provide video capture, indexing and encoding functionality for VIMS, and Convera's RetrievalWare, a multimedia and cross- and multilingual search system, will be integrated into the Web-based e-commerce portal to enable users to quickly search for and retrieve visual information from the archive.

VIMS also will comply with the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standard to provide a suite of e-learning and enhanced service capabilities for military and civilian educational activities. SCORM is a software specification that sets guidelines for developing online course material and makes Web-based training materials interoperable and easily shared.

"What is truly unique about the solution compared to a standard [digital asset management tool]," Wells said, "is the integration of Convera's RetrievalWare for advanced search capabilities; digital rights management; an e-commerce engine that supports government electronic transfers; a customer relationship management tool that connects the government customers with automated order fulfillment for distribution of CDs and DVDs; as well as a robust streaming media architecture that supports thousands of concurrent streams of video."

VIMS' acceptance testing will begin in October with system operation slated for mid-December, Wells said.

In addition to Convera and Virage, TranTech's other partners include Artesia Technologies, Atkins Benham Inc., Avid Technology Inc., ContentGuard Holdings Inc. and EMC Corp.

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