Food inspectors find it online

Agriculture Department food inspectors have a common reference point for
indexing and retrieving information from a pile of electronic updates they receive each
month.


They all turn to Isys 4.0 information retrieval software running under Microsoft
Windows 95 on the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s 1,700 Gateway Inc. 266-MHz
Solo 2500 notebook PCs and more than 800 Dell Computer Corp. OptiPlex desktop PCs with
350-MHz Pentium II CPUs.


The inspectors must keep up-to-date through annual CD-ROM updates as well as 3,000
monthly e-mails about directives, miscellaneous applications, catalogs, union contract
items and user manuals, said Peter Kuhmerker, the project manager. FSIS does USDA’s
egg, meat and poultry inspections.


The retrieval software from Isys Odyssey Development Inc. of Englewood, Colo., has been
indexing text-only data on inspectors’ hard drives for the past two years. USDA began
testing the program in 1993.


Inspectors enter one command to update and reindex their systems when they receive
Point-to-Point Protocol e-mail via their 56-Kbps modems, Kuhmerker said. Now under way is
a move from the old mail program to Microsoft Outlook 98 and Exchange, he said.


The indexes take up about 10M on each hard drive, Kuhmerker said.


USDA plans to expand the information retrieval system to 5,000 users and embed more
graphics into the updates through Isys 5.0 by year’s end, Kuhmerker said.


Also in the works is a plan to stop using a department-maintained modem bank and buy an
AT&T Corp. network service for point-to-point access, through an FTS contract,
Kuhmerker said.


Isys Odyssey Development is working on several Isys modifications suggested by USDA
personnel, Kuhmerker said.


Isys 4.0 also can search and index software applications, such as versions of Corel
WordPerfect that USDA’s inspectors use for word processing, Isys spokesman Greg
Fickas said.


Contact Isys Odyssey Development at 800-992-4797.

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