Paulette Sackett said her department used to be
swamped in paper.
Sackett, communications coordinator for the
Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at the
School of Medicine, said that up until two years ago, the
center's faculty and staff relied on a paper system that,
while reliable, was slow, cumbersome and costly. Each week,
she said, thousands of files had to be printed out,
photocopied and often hand delivered. The center's
researchers, in order to work remotely, would often take
home briefcases bursting at the seams with documents and
And then came the relocation. "A few years ago, we
moved into the Broadway Research Building," Sackett said.
"When we saw the facilities we had, one thing became clear:
We had relatively no file space."
The center had to find a way to reduce its files, and
it began looking into paperless methods. Specifically, the
center wanted a system in which staff and faculty could
share, store and retrieve files whether they were at work,
at home or abroad.
The search ended right at Johns Hopkins.
Today, the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders
Center is one of numerous departments and offices using
Johns Hopkins' Digital Media Manager to electronically
store and utilize thousands of documents, images and other
More than just a repository, DMM is an interactive
tool that allows subscribers and nonsubscribers alike to
take advantage of the system's archives and
The newspaper you are reading, for example, uses the
system to receive photos from its photographers, who upload
them from a studio five miles away, and also to send the
completed paper in minutes to its printing plant, located
an hour's drive away by car. Another subscriber, the
university's Office of News and Information, uses DMM to
provide faculty photographs to reporters across the
Sackett says that DMM has allowed her center to save
staff time and to reduce paper by 600,000 sheets per year.
In addition, the center's researchers now have access to
their files from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day.
"[The Digital Media Manager] has made it a lot easier
to manage our paper documents and images," she said. "We
potentially could be 100 percent paperless by using this
system. Right now we're about 80 percent there, as we still
need a few more people to buy in."
The Johns Hopkins Digital Media Manager is an
institutionswide digital archive for photos, desktop
publishing documents, PowerPoint presentations,
spreadsheets, audio, video — virtually any digital
"asset" that Johns Hopkins departments need to preserve,
retrieve, use or share. All a user needs is an Internet
connection and a Web browser.
The system allows each member department to establish
a collection of digital files, define its users and
establish what those users can do within the system. It
currently houses nearly 25,000 files, mostly images,
whether an autumnal shot of Homewood's Gilman Hall taken
for an admissions brochure or a high-resolution picture of
a brain cell used by a medical researcher.
Glenn Small, assistant director of the
Office of News and Information and
manager of DMM, said that one current underused aspect of
DMM is its work flow capability, wherein a group of people
can share files on a project and even send versions around
for approval, disapproval or comments.
"This functionality could be used by creative folks
like graphic artists or by collaborative research groups or
even our real estate people, say when they are working on a
new building project and need to share a lot of project
sketches," Small said.
One important and essential feature of the system, he
said, is its security.
"Not just anyone can get to see what you've put in
there," he said. "In fact, the system allows us to easily
customize various user access levels so that we can have a
catalog of images open to anyone to browse — but not
edit, delete, download or upload — or we could create
a special collection and share that with only certain users
that the client designates."
The concept of electronic management arose out of a
universitywide survey that showed there was strong interest
in a system that would help manage photographs and other
files. A coalition of 11 departments and offices embarked
in May 2003 on a six-month pilot program to test the
feasibility of a Web-based system that could be used to
store and retrieve all manner of digital media.
The successful pilot project led to the purchase of
the WebWare application, which runs on secure Johns Hopkins
servers located in East Baltimore and managed by IT@JH
staff. The application, selected after presentations by
numerous providers, is used by the National Football
League, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Boeing, Charles
Schwab and other major entities.
The Digital Media Manager is Mac- and PC-compatible,
does not require specialized software and handles both
large and varied file types.
Users can find files by keyword searches or by
browsing through a directory. Search results are returned
as thumbnail previews; by clicking on the thumbnail, users
can see a larger image and read file information.
Other features include instant conversion of image
assets into a variety of sizes and compression file
formats, such as a JPEG, GIF or TIF; video and audio
support; version tracking; and security flexibility. For
example, an administrator who wants to control the use of a
photograph can have it watermarked or can restrict access
so that the potential user has to contact him or the
Subscribers to DMM pay an annual fee based on the
group's usage and storage needs.
Nonsubscribers can log in as a guest and browse the
collections that are designated as public. If a guest finds
something he likes, he can contact the department that
posted the file to request permission to use the material.
Digital Media Manager is located at www.jhu.edu/dmm.
To log in as a guest, click on "AMA Browser." The username
and password are both "guest1."
For more information on Digital Media Manager, contact
Glenn Small at
firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Johns at email@example.com.