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Tentative Basis for the Design and Build-up of a Network File Structure


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Annex I of Need for a World Management Information System to Assist Initiation and Coordination of Global Development Programmes (1969)


A network file structure should not stress unnecessarily the difference between types of organization and link, since whatever definitions are used different types blend into one another. Similarities between types may be greater than the distinctions. Accented distinctions should be possible but should not distort the file structure.

A network file structure can therefore be conceived as made up of nodes and links. The nodes can be organizations of any kind, programmes independent of any particular organizations, agreements or treaties, and information systems or meetings which are independent of any particular organization. The links can be divided into two types. An input link indicates that a particular node receives information, funds, nonfinancial aid, etc. from the node to which it is linked. Such links may also represent the membership relationship of members of the node. An output link indicates that a particular node sends information, funds, non-financial aid, etc. to, or is a member of the node to which it is linked. Links could also represent consultative, collaborative, informal and other relationships if necessary.

The file should be structured so that as funds become available it can be constantly extended in coverage and detail from the most crucial areas for coordination to the operational levels, without any need to follow any predetermined order of development. The stored information should be of optimum utility at each stage, in order that it should immediately justify funds allocated to the project.

Link Description

Two codes could be used to describe each link. For example, in the case of an information link, the first code might indicate what type of information was received or sent: programme control information, programme administration information, bibliographic data, statistical data, news items, official notifications, etc. The second code could give some indication of the amount of this information.

Node Description

A description of each node could be built up in the following sequence as the information became available as a result of other programmes or as its collection becomes justified. Completion of each stage can be scheduled for each programme area at different times.

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3/4/5/6/7: Input and output link descriptor codes

Stage 3: Summary of major input and output links giving:

type, number of that type, frequency of link operation

Stage 4: Extension of Stage 3 codes by addition of the link addresses for each major type. For each type of link a code would be stored by the machine indicating where the list of machine addresses for the nodes linked was stored. This would enable the computer to trace through the network of inter-linking memberships or information systems, for example.

Stage 5: Extension of Stage 4-codes by distinguishing between major types of links.

Stage 6: Addition of a machine address indicating the location of a textual description of the organization, or links.

Stage 7 Addition of minor link types and addresses.

The final format of the record in computer memory, if it was considered necessary to include all stages for the node in question, could be:

Input types

Type coding

Number of links of that type Frequency of link operation Machine address of address list of nodes linked

Type coding

Plumber of links of that type ..etc.

Output types

Type coding


Type coding


Storage address of node textual description

File Build-up

The file build-up schedule could follow the sequence: intergovernmental, international non-governmental, national governmental, national non-governmental, multinational business, etc. Related internal technical committees, programmes, meetings and information systems could be included simultaneously or whenever convenient. The schedule could be modified whenever there was interest in the development of a particular type of organization or field of activity and as funds became available.

The schedule of detail build-up (Stages 1 - 7 -above) could also be designed with the greatest flexibility. Just as it is not necessary to do all the international organizations before important national groups, it is also not necessary to ensure that any particular group of organizations has been built up through any particular level of detail.

The entire build-up schedule can therefore be based on availability of information, utility, and fund availability.

Classes of User and Finance for Continued Operation

The main classes of user could be:

The file information could be stored centrally with:

Examples of Analysis of the Network useful to Programme formulation

File Design

The possible future demands on any such network file structure need to be studied carefully in order to:

The major design criterion is that the file structure should facilitate computer analysis of weaknesses in coordination and coverage of problem areas in order to indicate critical points in the network through which remedial action can be channelled.

The design should also permit or foresee:

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