8.3. Cost estimates for permanent facility - options
The following cost estimates are based on a completion period over two years,
but costs are only given for one year. These estimates are rather speculative.
All estimates are in US dollars. None of the costings include the delivery of
courses on using DIAL, which is dealt with separately.
The quantity of content added is the main variable - it is very elastic in that
the resources applied will determine the quality of the site, but not whether
it can be constructed at all (above a minimum level). Other elements such as
system and software maintenance are largely inelastic.
Estimates are given for development of a permanent DIAL facility by:
estimates are based on the creation of a facility which has the following
characteristics (until the amount of available data stabilises):
- Creation of a completed new DIAL facility in an academic environment.
- Creation of the DIAL facility as part of an existing legal information
- Continuation of development of DIAL by the prototype host, AustLII.
- Creation of a new DIAL facility by a commercial legal publisher.
These are probably conservative assessments.
No `off the shelf' software has been located which provides the features of the
three main pieces of software used to construct the DIAL prototype (Feathers -
indexing , SINO- search engine, Wallace/Gromit - web spider), and in particular
the integration between the three components.
- Over 3,000 links per year added to DIAL Index, possibly considerably more depending upon the level of
automatation of links creation (through embedded searches and import
facilities) which is achieved.
- Web spider targeted to add about 500 of these sites per year to DIAL
Search, resulting in at least 4-5 GB per year of new searchable data (ie more
than the current total data on the AustLII system added each year).
- Continuing web spider updating of over 4 GB of existing data.
- At least 10,000 hits per day (ie about 12.5% of the current load on
AustLII's Australian databases), and one search each second (about the same as
AustLII's current search load), to be handled efficiently by web servers. The
search load is comparatively higher than the hit rate, because the nature of
DIAL is that the data which is found by browsing or searching is external to
Netscape's Catalog Server did seem to contain an indexing system for targeting
web spiders on intranets, although it would have required customisation, but it
no longer appears to be available. There are programs available which can be
licensed free to academic institutions and will provide the core functions of
an indexing engine (a MSQL database engine, for example), search engines (such
as the new version of Glimpse) and web spiders (a number are available). The
Argos limited area search engine (used for JURIST) and Verity's web spider and
Topic search engine (used for legal databases by Knowledge Basket in New
Zealand), both discussed in Chapter 2, provide some of the required features
but do not appear to include the degree of integration with web indexing
software that is required by the Project DIAL approach, and do not include web
The amount of software development work necessary to develop these tools so
that they have equivalent functionality to the prototype, and particularly the
degree of systems integration required for a targeted web spider, is unknown.
On the experience of the prototype, it could be achieved within six months, but
this depends very much on the availability of computing staff with a wide
enough range of skills.
estimate of the costs of starting a new Project DIAL system, in an academic
context, without the benefit of adding it to an existing Internet server
facility follows for the first year of operation. The estimate must necessarily
be very tentative. All personnel components include University on-costs and the
person's personal computer equipment, but not accommodation costs.
The personnel component amounts to a
total of 3.33 persons at an average cost of $51,000 including computing
equipment and on costs.
- Project Director(s) - 100% of 1 person @ $70,000 - $70,000
Project Director would direct and be responsible for all aspects of the
project's completion stage. If a facility is to be built from scratch, it
would require a full-time Director during the establishment phase.
- Software development / system maintenance staff - 1 person @ $50,000 -
$70,000 $50,000 -
If a dedicated Internet server is to be run
for Project DIAL, and new software is to be developed for its operation, this
would require at least one person working full-time. One person could be
sufficient, but it depends on finding someone with the very wide range of
skills required. A computer science law graduate with programming experience
and knowledge of legal web site development is required. Depending on problems
encountered with software development, it could take more than one person. This
is a minimum costing.
- Content development (indexing and web spider) staff - 100% of 1 person @
Position here is the same as with the AustLII-based option.
Development of content would be somewhat slower, however, as existing content
would have to be re-implemented, unless software could be developed to port the
data from the prototype to the new software (this is possible but uncertain).
There would also be no other funded `threads' of the index paying for the cost
of some of the underlying index features and additional entries.
- Administrative assistant - 33% of 1 person @ $30,000 - $10,000
part-time administrative assistance could be obtained, but more time would be
needed for a stand-alone system.
- Equipment and infrastructure costs - $75,000 -
estimates below are for moderate quality equipment.
- Web server hardware and software $35,000
Assuming that production
system quality service was required to handle a load of approximately one
search per second, a relatively high quality Unix server would be desirable,
equivalent to a Sun Microsystems Enterprise 3000 server with two 300 MB
processors and minimum 256 MB memory. (Costs may be approximately double
without educational discounts and sales tax.)
- Disk storage (32 GB minimum), interface, controller and chassis
Storage less expensive than RAID may be acceptable, but there are
performance and reliability implications, and it is not advisable.
- Office space and facilities for four persons $10,000 -
may require separate costing for a new facility.
- Telecommunications charges. $10,000 -
This will depend on
the policy of the institution concerned
- Total for infrastructure costs $75,000 -
- Software licensing costs and additional contract costs for software
integration - $50,000
Indexing software equivalent to Yahoo or Feathers;
Search engine software equivalent to Alta Vista or SINO; Web spider software
which allows targeting and separate libraries (see comments above).
- Travel costs $10,000
For consultations with the Bank, potential funding
bodies and collaborative indexing organisations, and significant presentations
of DIAL. Travel is assumed to be economy class, and other travel costs at
University or Bank rates.
- Contingencies $10,000
- TOTAL $275,000 -
As noted above, the software cost is very difficult to estimate, as the
development time involved depends very largely on the availability of a person
with a suitable range of skills. Although the difference in the costs of
running a facility like this in the context of an existing system such as
AustLII appears to be substantially lower than as smaller dedicated facility
which would provide equivalent performance, this may not be the main
difference. The most important difference is likely to be in the availability
of people with the necessary experience in computerisation of law to carry out
all of the tasks required in a complex project such as DIAL, and in particular
the system integration tasks.
The additional work necessary to support the DIALogue component expanded to
involve a full range of Panelists and Authorised Users, with all of the
communications options provided in the prototype, can probably best be
estimated as requiring the equivalent of 60% of one additional person
(equivalent to 3 days per week) on the DIAL team (in the first year) at an
average staff member cost of $51,000.
If the operation of DIALogue is simplified (one of the options
recommended in Chapter 7), the cost would reduce considerably. If DIALogue is
operated in-house at the Bank, there would be no external costs involved. If
The following cost items are not strictly necessary for successful completion
of DIAL, and involve matters where the costs are very elastic depending on what
total cost of establishing a new DIAL system on start-up basis in an academic
environment, through to the end of the completion phase (probably a period of
two years) is therefore in the range of approximately $300,000 - $400,000.
- Addition of content by other cooperating bodies - $15,000+
extensive indexing by cooperating bodies can be organised, it would be
desirable to have some discretion to provide some funding assistance to
collaborative bodies in order to encourage their involvement.
- Graphic design $5,000+
The above estimates are based on a reasonably
plain system appearance, similar to that in the prototype. Graphic design, if
desired, will require additional funding.
No allowance has been made for the Bank's costs in finding another appropriate
A stand-alone facility will have difficulty in substantially reducing annual
costs in the production system stage because input will still be needed from
all the personnel components involved in the completion year, but a stand-alone
facility is not in a position to make these personnel roles fractional
appointments of other positions in an existing public legal information
institute. There is therefore a problem of combining the 3.3 positions of the
first year into something equivalent to two positions in the production system
stage, but exactly how this would be done would depend on the personnel
available and their mix of skills.
It is difficult to give a more precise estimate than to say that it should be
possible to reduce the annual production system cost to approximately $200,000
(including stakeholder contributions), through reduction of the personnel
component from 3.3 to 2, reduced software development costs and reduction of
hardware costs to allow only for upgrades and additional disk space. It may be
possible to reduce this further.
The costs of another existing legal information institute (other than the
prototype host, AustLII) taking up the development of the DIAL facilities would
probably be substantially less than the stand-alone facility in the previous
estimate. They would not have the same costs in starting new server facilities
from scratch, and would have expertise in dealing with legal materials (but
probably not in internet indexing). They would have software licensing and
software integration costs, and a need to re-implement the content currently in
the prototype. An existing public legal information institute would have the
advantage of not having to purchase all hardware and software solely for DIAL
use, but would be able to share capacity between different projects. Similarly
portions of the time of staff with particular skills could be allocated to
We estimate that this would reduce the overall costs of the development phase
by at least $50,000, to a range of $250,000 - $350,000. It would reduce the
production system phase costs by at least a similar amount (possibly more) down
to $120,000 - $150,000 per year (including stakeholder contributions). These
are estimates only, they have not been confirmed by other public legal
information institutes, who may put forward different estimates.
No allowance has been made for the Bank's costs in finding another appropriate
A separate document has been provided to the Bank setting out an estimate of
the costs that would be involved if the permanent DIAL facilities were
developed as a continuation of the DIAL prototype, hosted by AustLII and with
consultancy provided by DataLex Pty Ltd. This estimate is required by the
project's terms of reference. The estimated costs for the completion phase are
$200,000 - $230,000, about $70,000 less than those given above for take-up by
another existing public legal information institute, due to the existing
infrastructure (particularly software development) within which a continuation
project would occur. The estimated costs for the production system phase are
the same, $120,000 - $150,000 per year (including stakeholder contributions).
The details are not included here as they relate to specific academic
institutions and companies.
The costs of a commercial legal publisher taking up the development of DIAL are
also difficult to estimate, but are likely to be higher than the previous
options. Given that DIAL would now be run as a commercial venture, seeking
advertising revenue, it is unlikely that staff would be working at less than
full commercial rates, which are generally higher than University rates
(although probably not for law librarians / indexers). University prices for
equipment would also not be available. These factors could add up to
$50-100,000 to the overall budget.
It is difficult to imagine a commercial legal publisher wanting to operate the
DIALogue facility (for reasons explained earlier), so that would probably have
to be run separately, at additional cost.
- If the Bank decides to establish a new `start-up' DIAL system in an
academic environment, it should allow $300,000 - $400,000 for the completion
phase, plus the Bank's costs in finding an appropriate alternative host.
- If the Bank decides to locate DIAL at another existing public legal
information institute (not the prototype host), it should allow $250,000 -
$350,000 for the completion phase, plus the Bank's costs in finding an
appropriate alternative host.
- If the Bank decides to continue the development of DIAL at the prototype
host, AustLII , it should allow $200,000 - $230,000 for the completion phase.
- If the Bank supports a `stakeholder model' as the means of ongoing funding
of DIAL, the Bank should pay a portion of the ongoing `production system' costs
for some years while the stakeholder support is being built up and phased in.
- If DIAL is located at a public legal information institute (AustLII or
otherwise), the estimated annual cost for the `production system' phase is
$120,000 - $150,000. The Bank should pay a portion diminishing over successive
years, for example payments of $70,000, $50,000 and $30,000 over the first
 This includes the shared resources in
any multi-threaded index, such as the front pages for each country, internet
law index pages, and other starting points for any legal research.
 Estimate based on 500MB of DIAL Search
data from about 40 sites to date.
three years of the production system.