City moving forward on plan for digital records management

The city is looking at digitizing existing and back-filed documents while also bringing in new software for more efficient records management, according to a staff presentation during Monday’s city council meeting.

Digitizing records will help alleviate concerns of lost hard copy records due to a fire or flood, as roughly 1,000 boxes are in storage on city property. Approximately 100 boxes are destroyed annually as they move through the retention process, according to a staff report.

Digitizing records will also help cut down on staffing costs by reducing the time it takes to search for documents and enable the city to meet obligations under provincial legislation.

“I’m excited to see a roadmap moving forward and looking forward to some action on this,” said Councillor Wes Graham.

Staff is focusing on starting with property records, including building permits, planning files and subdivision files. Currently, staff maintains a database that identifies and records the physical location of where city-related documentation is stored.

Other city records, such as council minutes, agendas, bylaws and agreements are already digitized and stored on local in-house servers.

Going forward over the next few months, existing property records will go through a backfile conversion, meaning they’ll be scanned or imaged into a searchable format.

Staff have contacted three Canadian companies for quotes and have visited two sites in Calgary. Through the process, staff will have the opportunity to get some insight on security measures, compliance, naming conventions and optimum standards for future records management.

Once those property records are digitized, then new software will be brought online to manage those documents. Staff has reached out to over 30 municipalities to get a sense of what other communities are doing to manage their documentation.

The city has budgeted $74,000 for backfile conversion and the software is budgeted for $65,000, all of which is included in the 2020 budget. Going forward, annual subscription and maintenance costs of software for records management is $25,000 starting next year.

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