NYS Department of State: Paper Records to Microfilm

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One important responsibility of the NYS Department of State is to maintain the business certificates and biennial statements of all incorporated companies in the Empire State. Through their Division of Corporation they “examine, file, and maintain numerous documents vital to business and state government.” Over the years, millions of documents from all over the state have been submitted to and processed by the division. To save room and ensure the long-term availability of these records, the NYS DOS converted the paper records to microfilm.

The Challenge

Maintain integrity of documents, condense 300+ boxes of film and enhance accessibility

That was a sensible and responsible decision in the 20th century. However, the technological revolution has forever changed the business landscape. It’s now entirely possible to maintain an almost limitless collection of documents indefinitely with instantaneous access. And that is exactly what NYS DOS needed.

The Century old solution of microfilm was proving an obstacle to the document retrieval process. Locating a single requested document would often require the effort of three employees, could take up to 24 hours to complete, and once mailed, it could take multiple days to be delivered to the requesting organization. Labor costs were high, and the department was quickly learning that microfilm is a fragile medium when it is regularly accessed.

Under favorable conditions, microfilm has an extremely long shelf life. However, each time microfilm is unrolled and loaded to a render printer, it is exposed to light, dust, and skin oils. These factors, along with permanent scratches that are left with each fast-forward and rewind of the reader printer will quickly deteriorate the film. How could NYS DOS maintain the integrity of their documents, condense the footprint of the 300+ boxes of film, and enhance accessibility for their employees?

The Solution

A secure network where documents could easily be shared and accessed

NYS DOS contacted electronic content solutions provider eBizDocs to help them regain control of their records and improve their records retrieval process.

"Our basic objective was to answer the question, how can we put their records right at their fingertips?" said Project Manager Chris Ginart. "In other words, how can we help the department increase productivity and make their employees' jobs easier?"

The proposed solution was a secure network environment where documents could be easily shared and accessed by the employees who needed them.

Phase one was conversion. eBizDocs employed cutting edge hardware and software to convert each roll into digital strips. Each strip was then "cut" into individual images and then reconstructed as multipage documents.

During phase two, the eBizDocs Quality Assurance Team performed image processing to properly orient the documents and improve readability. The QA Team's goal was to ensure that the customer would receive the best quality image possible. This was no small task. Each roll possessed its own characteristic flaws in the form of artifacts, blurs, and stretches that needed correcting.

The final step in the process was indexing. eBizDocs' dedicated Index Team viewed each image and entered the data that NYS DOS would later use as search terms. eBizDocs utilizes a method of data entry called double-blind indexing. It is a time-consuming process, but it is known to maximize accuracy and searchability.

The Results

NYS DOS is now able to retrieve and deliver documents much faster without worrying about longevity of records and save money

eBizDocs made good on their promise to streamline the file request process. The NYS DOS Division of Corporation staff can now retrieve and deliver documents faster without worrying about the longevity of their records.

With the help of eBizDocs, the department has converted 300 boxes containing 24,000 rolls of microfilm into more than 30 million digital images. These images reside on a secure internal network. Image quality has vastly improved, and premium office space has been reclaimed for more useful purposes. Documents are no longer at risk of degradation, and it now takes one person only a few minutes to retrieve and deliver record requests. As a result, NYS DOS has its information at its fingertips and is finally able to retire the four antiquated microfilm reader printer machines.

 

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