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Toward Public Volume Database Management: A Case Study of NOVA: The National Online Volumetric Archive.
Public databases today can be constructed with a wide variety of authoring and management structures. The widespread appeal of Internet search engines suggests that public information be made open and available to common search strategies, making accessible information that would otherwise be hidden by the infrastructure and software interfaces of a traditional database management system. We present the construction and organizational details for managing NOVA, the National Online Volumetric Archive. As an archival effort of the Visible Human Project for supporting medical visualization research, archiving 3D multimodal radiological teaching files, and enhancing medical education with volumetric data, our overall database structure is simplified; archives grow by accruing information, but seldom have to modify, delete, or overwrite stored records. NOVA is being constructed and populated so that it is transparent to the Internet; that is, much of its internal structure is mirrored in HTML allowing internet search engines to investigate, catalog, and link directly to the deep relational structure of the collection index. The key organizational concept for NOVA is the Image Content Group (ICG), an indexing strategy for cataloging incoming data as a set structure rather than by keyword management. These groups are managed through a series of XML files and authoring scripts. We cover the motivation for Image Content Groups, their overall construction, authorship, and management in XML, and the pilot results for creating public data repositories using this strategy.