From Paper to Digital Records
December 22, 2016
In most municipalities, minutes of public meetings are printed, bound, and stored out of public view. While these physical records are believed to be safeguarded, they are also unavailable to the public without an OPRA request.
The two binders on the right include the public meeting minutes of the Allendale Mayor and Council for 2006. They weigh about 15 lbs. Their dimension are approximately 5.5″ wide and 11.5″ high. These binders, along with many other, must be stored and safeguarded. Given their bound paper format, they are subject to deterioration and costly reproduction. Click on the image for a complete review of these binders.
In today’s everything/everywhere smart phone world, these records should be digitized and made available via the Internet. They are public records. They are your records.
Moving from paper to digital records takes time, money, and ongoing effort. While there are costs involved, the payback is significant.
Once converted to digital files, each document can then be stored on a portable or Internet drive. For example, one 64 GB USB flash drive can store hundreds of paper binders. In addition, once digitized, these files can be shared over the Internet using a web site or a cloud based storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, et al.
The Center for Technology in Government at the University of Albany does a nice job detailing the costs and benefits of this very timely subject.
Paper to Digital – the costs
- Design, development, implementation and maintenance of the new digital records system – including ongoing IT support.
- Gathering of existing digital documents.
- Scanning paper documents into PDF files.
- Server security methods – passwords, backup, etc.
- On-going maintenance, migration and conservation of digital records, especially permanently valuable records.
- Training of staff and end users.
- New management, administrative and/or process controls required by the electronic transaction.
Paper to Digital – the benefits
- Increased speed of the transaction.
- Increased partner participation and customer satisfaction.
- Improved record keeping efficiency and data analysis opportunities.
- Greater information benefits to the public, especially for those who do not live near the Borough and will no longer need to travel.
- Improved security and reduction in paper records damage.
- Extensive security for highly sensitive information.
- Improvement in reputation, credibility and public trust.