Spring 2004 - Copyright 2004 by S. I. Inc.

S. I. Inc., the Year to Date

As we reported in our last issue, S. I. Inc. has been working for High Tide Software almost exclusively. That effort has been in two areas: 1/ Finishing up the Alaskan DMV engagement and 2/ Getting in a position to resell OpenMFG. By the time you read this High Tide will have closed the first OpenMFG deal. We will have more about this in the Summer issue of the WORKS. Most of the space in this issue will be taken up with SelectRight™, the product that evolved from the work in the State of Alaska.

Alaskan DMV uses SelectRight

Believe it or not, there still are people using MCS-3. This is in spite of the fact that there has not been support for the product in over a year and the people who bought MCS-3 from us have gone out of business. Needless to say, we know something about manufacturing in general and MCS-3 in particular. With the addition of a new product from a third party, S. I. Inc. finds itself back in its old stomping grounds.

“the WORKS” is going to report on a topic this quarter that has been consuming most of its time this year. Our involvement has been in the project management area and not in the technical development. While the product we are describing was developed to administer driver license testing, the concept can easily be expanded to any mass test taking environment.

In 2003, the State of Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) was awarded a federal grant to upgrade the Driver License Knowledge Testing process. The State issued an RFP for a computer-based testing application featuring stand-alone applicant testing kiosks. In a competitive bid, High Tide Software was awarded a contract for a statewide turnkey project that included hardware, software, test kiosks, installation, training, and support of the system. The following is a description of the Alaska implementation in particular and the High Tide Automated Driver License Testing System in general.

The High Tide system for the administration and knowledge testing of driver license applicants is named SelectRight™ Testing Software. The Alaska DMV system consists of three distinct kinds of workstation: One centrally located Administrative server, thirteen Examiner PCs, and seventy one Applicant test taking kiosks. The kiosks are shown in the picture above. The software was specified by the DMV to administer both the Operator and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The communication link utilizes the DMV Local Area Network (LAN) and the statewide Intranet to connect all testing locations to the Administrator Console in Anchorage. A more general implementation of SelectRight can run as a thin client over a secure connection to the Internet The secure Internet version is being contemplated for use by the DMV at remote locations where test kiosks are not practical. The Administrator in Anchorage can view local operations and work loads in real time. Testing systems are installed at Fairbanks, Juneau, Kodiak and 10 other locations.

The SelectRight hardware for the Administrator and the Examiner Consoles utilize a standard Intel based computer running the Windows operating system. The hardware for the applicant’s Test Station is the same configuration of computer enclosed in a secure kiosk whereby the user only has access to the monitor screen. In this document the term kiosk and test station are used to describe where the applicant takes the test. The user-friendly kiosk screen is a 17-inch, high resolution, color touch screen monitor. Randomized multiple-choice test questions are displayed to the applicant who is instructed to touch specific areas of the screen to register responses.

What the user, be it the Administrator, Examiner, or Applicant, sees is an extremely clean and easy to use console interface. All of the screens are intuitively obvious to use. Displays are large, colorful, and very user friendly.

The SelectRight software has been crafted to operate in a secure fashion over the Internet. The implementation for Alaska has been configured to the RFP specifications. SelectRight has been written in C# as a web service. One version of the system is server-based with each type of user being tied into the system through “thin-client” architecture. Each screen with which the users interacts is actually a web form rendered in HTML. There are three major subdivisions of the software. These correspond to the three “actors” in the system: the Applicant, the Examiner, and the Administrator. In the following paragraphs we will briefly explain the roles performed by each.


The focus of the system is directed toward the Applicant. After registering at the Examiner Console the Applicant is directed to a SelectRight kiosk. Initially the applicant is presented with a Greeting Screen, then Instructions on the use of the system, and a few Sample Questions to put the applicant at ease with operation of the touch screen. Once the test begins the Applicant is presented with multiple-choice questions along with four possible answers. In addition to the answer buttons there are the navigation buttons to move to the next question without answering the question (Skip) and the selection button (OK). The test is terminated when one of the following conditions occur:

    ¤ All of the questions have been answered.
    ¤ Enough of the number of questions have been answered such that the system can
       assign a passing or failing grade. (Pass/Fail Option)
    ¤ The optional countdown sequencer has reached zero and the Applicant has timed-out.
    ¤ The Examiner terminates the testing session.


The Examiner Console software is used to initiate, monitor, and control Test Station activity. It is the Examiners role to monitor all of the SelectRight Test Stations at the DMV location. The system is operated by the Examiner using the web browser on his Console. The Examiner has the option of allowing the Applicant to review the questions missed, or the entire test exactly as it was presented to the applicant. The SelectRight reports are clean, self-intuitive, and comprehensive. The reports allow the Examiner, and the Administrator, complete executive control of the testing operation.

It is up to the Examiner to identify the Applicant. He determines what type of test is going to be administered. It is the Examiner who directs the Applicant to a SelectRight kiosk. At his command the test begins and possibly ends. He can view in real-time what is going on at a Test station. He can review the test either with or without the Applicant. It is his choice to pass the test results on to the test results database.

The functions under the Examiners control are:

    ¤ Select the test(s) to be administered to the Applicant.
    ¤ Direct the Applicant to a SelectRight Kiosk.
    ¤ Cancel a test at any time.
    ¤ Review in various levels of detail all test(s) results.
    ¤ Manually or automatically download test results to the test results database.
    ¤ Monitor all Test Stations simultaneously, in a real-time environment.
    ¤ Generate and review all required system reports.


The Administrator, using the Administrator Console located at DMV Headquarters, controls the entire SelectRight system. The Administrator is the system supervisor. The Administrator too communicates statewide using only a web browser. The responsibilities of the Administrator are:

    ¤ To monitor every workstation in the system, particularly the 13 Examiner Consoles.
    ¤ Perform security and administrative functions for the SelectRight Testing system.
    ¤ To create new tests and/or test questions, and audit the bank of test questions.
    ¤ Generate and review all global system reports.
    ¤ Provide statistical analysis of test questions, time taken per test, etc.

Any DMV office manager/supervisor can suggest add/change/delete modifications to the testing system. However, only the Administrator can actually make the alteration. An important function of the Administrator is to edit, delete and/or develop test material. Once developed, the Administrator can test his new materials by going to any Examiner Console, live or test. In addition, for the sake of security, it is the Administrator Console that registers the Examiners and correlates Examiner accountability to specific tests administered.

Although the Administrator has the responsibility for security, the system provides him great support in that endeavor. It is the Administrator who issues user IDs and passwords. It is the SelectRight software that enforces their use. In the Alaskan Intranet environment, the system stands behind a firewall. In the more general case, other measures like encryption, private communication lines, and hardware identity systems are employed.

SelectRight maintains two databases under the control of the Administrator Console. The first database houses the test bank of questions. These are potential questions, questions currently in use, and questions that have been retired. The second database serves as a centralized site for the recording of Applicant completed test results and stores all of the knowledge tests administered by the DMV. Both of these databases are Microsoft SQL Server repositories.

For additional information:

     Phone: (781) 329-4828

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     S. I. Inc.
     32 Ridley Road
     Dedham, MA 02026