While the advantage of digital records has long been proved, some of our nation’s city councils are yet to transfer from paper to paperless.
Massive Investment Justified
Bangor City Council, Maine has voted for what many feel the long overdue proposal to convert from paper to digital documentation. The proposal was revealed on March 2, 2015. The finance committee of the council had said it was high time that their inefficient paper filing system was replaced. The inefficiency was not only felt within departments, but was also apparent in transactions between the public and the department.
One of the aims of this transition is to improve the public’s access to the municipal records. Long-term cost reduction is the other aim, though the transition itself is estimated to cost around $210,000 which the city council has decided to fund by selling some property.
The digital records system conceived would contain search capabilities and a public portal for providing access to residents. Some of the paper records that need to be converted are around 150 years old.
The big challenge is to keep the costs within the amount the city council has set aside. The hardware and software expenses alone are expected to cost somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000. The other expenses relate to hiring a professional document scanning and conversion service, as converting a large volume of paper records to digital format is a time consuming task and demands expertise. There is huge volume of records involved and the right software must be combined with human expertise to get the digitization completed within a reasonable period of time.
Collaboration from City Departments Vital
The search for professionals to scan and convert documents would commence by mid-April, 2015, but before that the various city departments need to get together for deciding on a suitable filing system. They would also need to get the required infrastructure up and running.
In spite of the challenges involved, the council’s finance committee is absolutely sure that the project would offer many long-term advantages. It would massively improve the efficiency of the council’s day-to-day functioning and, in the long run, help the council save a significant amount of money.
The ultimate motivation for this transition to digital records though, is the improved relationship between the public and the council, which more or less justifies the effort and initial investment.