Courts use digitization to preserve important files

March 20th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document and Information Capture | Document Management | Information Management

Courthouses are rapidly turning to document imaging solutions to back up crucial files, provide expanded storage space and make information more accessible to the public.

The Daily Republic reported that the Davison County Clerk of Court's office recently utilized conversion services to switch over to an electronic document management system. Davison County is one of 13 other counties in the First Judicial Circuit to use this system for storing and filing all court records. John Kayser, applications maintenance manager for the South Dakota Unified Judicial System (UJS), told the news source that he was optimistic about the $11 million statewide conversion, and stated that the transition has been smooth.

Because all court documents are now digitally scanned, The Daily Republic reported that offices will no longer need to physically store files, and clerks will have instant access to these records from any location. Further, clerks can process payments and law enforcement officials can submit citations digitally, all under one central point of access. The news source revealed that the South Dakota Supreme Court recently adopted a rule requiring that all court documents be typed or handwritten in 12-point font or larger on one-sided, letter-sized white paper. Kent Grode, IT director for the UJS, explained that this rule will make the digitization of court documents easier for clerks. The next phase of this paperless initiative is to install computer terminals at courthouses, so these documents are widely accessible to visitors.

Increasing information's life-span
These projects are gaining traction throughout the nation, freeing up storage space to preserve critical records. The State Journal reported that Kyle Campbell, a records specialist, works with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, traveling courthouse to courthouse in an effort to convert county clerks' documents, such as marriage and birth records.

"Most of West Virginia's courthouses were built in the late 19th century to early 20th century, so they weren't really built to house records for this length of time," Campbell told the source.

Campbell was adamant that these efforts will help to ensure that records are maintained.

"If we don't work on a way to preserve these books, eventually over time, the paper will break down and they will be lost," he told The State Journal.

While currently, Campbell is focusing his efforts on the county clerk's office, he hopes to eventually see other departments consider these strategies. Digitization not only offers a strong backup solution for preservation, but also provides new space that offices can use offices for alterative purposes.

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