Endless pages of paper, rolls of microfilm, and layers of microfiche cause clutter in your forensic lab. These non-digital records archives also slow down searches for important information. Converting these hard copy files helps ensure data longevity, use space more effectively, and increase the availability of all your data. These conversions need to be done using a systematic process so that quality isn’t degraded, and all the information is captured correctly. This is why professional document conversion services are important for public safety organizations, including forensic labs.
Document Preservation Challenges
Much of our lives and work are online. Yet paperwork is still prevalent in many private sectors and public safety organizations from legacy processes or archived records. This hardcopy information, such as paper files, microfiche, or microfilm, has many drawbacks.
It takes up physical storage space
It is difficult to search and share
There is a risk of quality degradation
There have been many studies done on this topic. Results from a Gartner report revealed that staff can waste up to 30% of their workweek, or about 12 hours, managing paper-based documents. Handling paper also has a cost from storing, copying, printing, and disposing of that can add up to 31 times more than the cost of purchasing paper in the first place notes the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Additionally, one filing cabinet can take up to 17 square feet (about half the area of a queen sized bed) of office space!
This doesn’t consider that law enforcement, court personnel, researchers, and others need access to archival records for studying trends and operations. Gathering this data requires searching through files sometimes at various locations and then transcribing it online which increases the risk of error from the original information.
Why You Should Consider Document Preservation
The days of sorting through paper records or searching microfilm and microfiche are coming to an end. With document conversion, even your historical documents can be in digital form and readily available for searching and analysis. Whether your lab is now primarily paperless or just aspiring to be, you likely still have boxes full of historical materials. These analog files are at risk of damage or loss.
There are benefits for taking a strategic approach to converting and adding these files to your digital database.
Ensure Data Continuity and Long-Term Preservation
Keep your historical data safe from water, dust, and other forms of degradation
Use Your Space More Effectively
When you no longer need to store these materials (boxes, bins, etc.), the area(s) can be repurposed to other uses, such as lab space or inventory room
Expand Data Availability
Comprehensive access to your data helps you gain additional insights for informed decisions as well as saving time looking for relevant information
Documentation Considerations in Public Safety
Public safety organizations, including forensic labs, are required to maintain various records for legal compliance, quality control, and even research and development. These requirements help preserve evidence, ensure the integrity of the information, and foster trust from transparency. Retention times are also a consideration for on-site or remote storage in accordance with federal, state, and local statutes. Agencies and labs may have their own internal minimum retention periods.
The records maintained in a laboratory may include the following:
instrument and equipment maintenance logs
calibration record of instruments and analytical processes
records associated with approved standard operating procedures
spreadsheets used to calculate accuracy and precision of instruments
certified standards log
analyst case notes
images and other supportive data
While many of these files can be scanned or uploaded, it is best to consult with document conversion experts. They work with you from beginning to end to determine the services and processes that best fit your lab’s specific requirements, including future document conversion needs. Document conversion services ensure that your information is captured in the format you need without any integrity loss.
Some of the benefits of working with a document conversion and management company include:
Qualified experts ensure consistent, high-quality conversions
They can convert all types of materials, such as oversized drawings, docket books, paper, microfilm, microfiche, and aperture cards
The manual indexing process offers you customizable data fields
Several different output file type options are available, depending on your lab’s needs
Exceptional quality control
The challenges of managing analog and individual digital record archives in forensic labs include the physical space they occupy, difficulty in searching and sharing information, and the risk of quality degradation. Document conversion allows for better data longevity, space utilization, and increased data availability. Public safety organizations, such as forensic labs, have legal compliance requirements and retention times. By working with document conversion experts, you reduce the burden of having already busy staff processing the materials while ensuring ensure quality and accuracy of the information converted.
Learn more about Versaterm’s FivePoint Document Conversion Services.