|Special Memories at INIS|
INIS: a worldwide hub where nuclear information is preserved, validated, and made universally available. Within this special edition of the Newsletter, celebrating the 45th birthday of INIS, you will probably read this definition, and many more, of the International Nuclear Information System.
However, INIS has some special aspects, not immediately visible to those who interact with the System and the INIS Secretariat, which make it unique in the scientific environment. In this article, I will try to share my experience with INIS and the memories that have stayed with me, even after my departure.
I joined INIS in 2006 as an IT Systems Engineer. I must say that I found a very complex IT infrastructure with over 20 servers and several software applications which, given the small size of the INIS Unit, clearly reflected the multitude of activities INIS was (and still is) involved in. From the start, I felt that INIS was perceived in a different way by other people involved with Information Technology. In fact, since its birth in 1970, INIS has proven to be extremely innovative and open to embracing new technologies, compared with other parts of the Agency.
For example, Livelink was proposed and installed for the first time by the INIS Unit before becoming the IAEA standard tool for enterprise document management, and presently, is uniquely and sharply customized to fulfill INIS’ critical weekly task of processing thousands of bibliographic and full text records.
Moreover, INIS developed the first ‘app’ for iPad within the IAEA, and was the second Unit to create a version of its official website tailored for mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablet PCs). INIS also created its own customized QR code (if you have never seen it, you can find it on the INIS website Contacts page). Lastly, INIS was the only Unit capable of customizing the Google Search Appliances (GSA), used by other sections within the Agency, thus creating a very powerful search engine (the INIS Collection Search) enabling easy retrieval of information from a database with over 3.7 million records. All of these examples prove how innovation is a word that must undoubtedly be associated with the work carried out within the INIS Secretariat. Based on the above, I would like to share with you the following anecdote. Before leaving the IAEA, I was asked by the former Deputy Director General of the Department of Nuclear Energy to perform a survey of the status of Information Technology within the Department. When I finalized my work, one of my proposals was to nominate the Systems Development and Support Group (SDSG), the team supporting INIS in all its IT related activities and projects, to centrally coordinate all the IT activities within the NE Department, due to SDSG’s natural attitude to explore new technologies and propose pioneering solutions.
To me, from a professional aspect, INIS represents a working environment where one can propose groundbreaking ideas and different visions to run a consolidated set of tasks while constantly improving. This epitomizes the right attitude towards change and improvement.
But INIS also has a different meaning to me.
I spent the entire 7 years of my contract with the IAEA in INIS and had the chance to see some of the different stages that INIS went through, the last of which was the creation of the Nuclear Information Section (NIS), which is made up of INIS, the IAEA Library and SDSG, and the establishment of the Nuclear Knowledge Management Unit as a Section (previously a part of INIS). Many people have left INIS and many new staff have arrived, bringing with them new ideas and energy, but what I always felt remained constant was the familiar atmosphere and spirit which has always characterized the INIS Secretariat. In fact, in addition to the work done on the first floor of the Vienna International Centre's F building, INIS staff enjoy celebrating events together, appreciating and supporting each other as more than simply colleagues, making this place an enjoyable work environment, not only for the importance and relevance of the INIS mandate. I have seen many former colleagues frequently visiting INIS, which emphasizes the uniqueness and specialness of INIS. All these nice words which I have written in favor of INIS might be considered, to some extent, biased, especially for those who have heard about INIS but have never worked at the Secretariat. Fair enough. I can only say that it has been an honor and a pleasure to provide my professional and personal contribution to INIS’ noble mission of collecting and sharing worldwide knowledge on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.