Oregon state courts embrace digital lifestyle

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Court systems, like numerous enterprises around the world, have been forced to deal with mountains of paperwork over the years, often leaving archives and offices cluttered and chaotic. In an effort to eliminate this problem, the Linn County Circuit Court in Oregon is going digital, according to a report by the Albany Democrat-Herald.

In early December, the entire court system will be revamped in an effort to go paperless, the news source reported. Doing so will require thousands of files to be scanned into an e-filing system. Document management practices are expected to be much more efficient as a result.

"All current files will be scanned and then destroyed," Presiding Judge Dan Murphy of the state courts in Linn County said, according to the Democrat-Herald. "No exceptions. And yes, it will be a lot of work."

The benefits of digitization

By converting all documents to digital files, consumers will be able to access public records from their home computers, on the go with mobile devices and virtually anywhere else they are connected to the internet. There will also be a public computer available at the Linn courthouse for individuals who don't have access to the web at home, the Democrat-Herald reported.

"This is going to be an adjustment for those who grew up with books and paper," Murphy said, according to the news provider. "We've already talked with some of the attorneys. Many are curious, while some are older and had hoped to avoid having to go digital."

In addition to the complexity associated with converting paper to digital formats, some officials are concerned with recovery and business continuity in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. However, Murphy told the Democrat-Herald that they have been planning this initiative for roughly eight years and have already thought about these circumstances. To mitigate losing information during an emergency, the entire court system will be backed up in several locations.

This trend is happening across the public sector, as President Barack Obama recently told federal agencies to convert to electronic records management systems wherever possible in an effort to improve public access to documents, according to Computerworld.

As everything begins to be converted to digital, enterprise content management will likely become more efficient, allowing individuals to access files virtually anywhere at any time.