Towns across the nation continue to adopt electronic document management solutions to benefit both administrative staff as well as citizens by making information more easily accessible.
The Palm Beach Daily news reported that Palm Beach, Florida recently invested in these technologies to reduce paper use and allow employees to better service residents. Veronica Close, assistant director of the Planning, Zoning and Building Department told the source that early last year, the department installed software that allowed staff to digitally accept and review plans, add comments and time stamps and electronically send these files back to project managers. She explained that the new system will make applications more convenient for property owners and contractors. Many of these documents, including town ordinances, meeting agendas and minutes, are now accessible through the town's website.
"Before, public records requests had to be manually researched, copied and distributed. Now, I'd say 50 percent of those requests can be done by the user themselves on our website," Chris Cartrett, document management coordinator told Palm Beach Daily.
Additionally, digitization has saved the department wasted money and time on labor-intensive tasks.
"It's more user-friendly and you can find information quickly," Close said, according to the news source. "You can get all the information quickly. You don't need as much space. You are not hiring bodies to walk around paper. The amount of documents [required] is increasing, but there's no reason to not reduce the amount of paper."
Close said that the building department spends $7,000 a year for off-site storage of archived plans and other paper documentation. By eliminating these storage needs, the town will experience considerable cost savings. Cartrett explained that the town began digitizing files in 2000 and currently has 59,245 electronic records in its system. Now, the Public Works Department is utilizing conversion services to digitize archived engineering drawings and plans.
The Chicago Tribune revealed that the Lake County Circuit Court in Illinois has also enabled constant public access to all criminal, civil and traffic case records through electronic document management software. Keith Brin, Lake County clerk, explained to the source that citizens will be able to search documents by a person's name, case numbers and other terms. This will reduce the amount of phone calls the office receives requesting information. Brin estimated that the system would be fully-functioning within two months.
Digital conversion empowers organizations to make information more rapidly and conveniently available, enhancing overall efficiency while ensuring long-term savings.
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