Vast improvements possible with the digitization of property files

March 6th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document and Information Capture | Document Management | Information Management

More cities are utilizing conversion services to digitize property documents, which has reduced costs and administrative workloads while providing citizens with easier access to these files.

The Whitefish Bay Patch reported that the community's Village Hall will be converting approximately 250,000 pages of property records to an electronic format. Village Manager Patrick DeGrave told the news source that this transition will decrease office clutter and make staff more productive by removing the burden of certain tasks. Document imaging technologies will scan the front and back of the village's blueprints and records, which will then be viewable on a computer kiosk for residents that are looking to buy or remodel a house. Residents will also be able to email files or store them on a thumb drive for later review. DeGrave explained that not only will this provide convenience for customers, but it will relieve office staff of much of the work in fulfilling requests. He further asserted that the resulting efficiency from digitization will free staff to focus on long-term strategies and planning. DeGrave told the news source that he hopes to expand these digital initiatives by converting utility bills and other records to an electronic format in the future.

Other cities are adopting electronic document management systems with similar expectations. The News & Advance reported that the IT department of Lynchburg's City Hall is developing a new system that is expected to make property information easier for both citizens and developers by digitizing neighborhood plans, proposals and community studies. Approximately 37,000 documents will be digitized within the next three to six months, which until now, have been stored in various distributed offices.

Convenient access and exchange
With the new digital system, users will be able to search for files using street names and other keywords. Further, plans for an online database will allow users to find specific projects and view all related documentation, such as site plans and city staff comments. The system will also make sharing documents between city staff in different offices much easier. Previously, developers were required to provide more than 12 copies of every 40 to 50 page plan they submit. Community Development Director Kent White estimated that with the new system, the number of required copies could be cut in half, which will save printing costs. Councilman Randy Nelson was optimistic about these plans.

"I think the utility of this will maximize the efficiency of our personnel so the public, both technicians and the average citizen, can more quickly access information they might otherwise be left frustrated trying to get," he told the news source.

Digitization can make records more widely available and searchable, providing improved flexibility for developers and property owners alike.

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