Digitizing Municipal Records: The Key to a Post-Pandemic Response

Posted by MESHDS on Jun 11, 2021 9:30:00 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic forced an acceleration of digital adoption in the vast majority of private sector organizations. Municipal or public sector agencies struggled to keep up with the pace of technological change adopted by the private sector. Funded primarily by taxes, municipal service fees, and financial aid from other government agencies or departments, municipal bodies lack the financial resources to undertake large-scale transformational initiatives.

How have municipal bodies reacted to the post-pandemic demands? Are they prepared for the needs of citizens and businesses in the new normal scenario?

The next few years will undoubtedly demand a much more efficient, quick and digital response from the public sector. Citizens and businesses alike have adopted technology and collaborative tools in every aspect of their lives, and they will likewise demand digitalized services from municipal bodies. Municipal bodies will need to embrace digitization, focus on adopting new technologies to up their service game, improve their public interactions, and provide citizens with a better customer experience.

Digital transformation in municipal and civil services adds value to their customer-facing services and poses a cost-cutting opportunity for them.

All of this must be achieved while keeping in mind their budgetary constraints. Affordable but smart technology that enhances the productivity of low-resource teams is the need of the hour.

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Digital adoption trends in municipal agencies

The benefits of using technology to digitize municipalities are certainly going to be immense.  

Some of the key areas in which digital transformation will be beneficial are:

Citizen Services: Converting paper to digital

The critical dependency on physical documents is high in the public sector and municipal bodies. For example, processes around passport dockets, citizenship and precinct hygiene documentation, citizen medical records, and many other public records related to home and finance have primarily been paper-based. 

Digitizing all this legacy documentation and all incoming documentation daily is mission-critical. Municipal bodies do not have the in-house resources and skills to handle large-scale digitization. Support from external vendors or partners is critical for them to harness the benefits of digital technologies. 

MES digitizes documents for municipal bodies via services like Scan to Zero for legacy backfile scanning and day-forward scanning services that help these institutions achieve and maintain paperless operations. We provide document scanning services to convert citizen records to digital formats seamlessly. 

Moving to digital processing allows municipalities to deliver their services more efficiently. Storage of digital records is also cheaper than the expensive real estate required for physical documents. Digitization of physical records may require an initial investment, but the long-term pay-offs are well worth the investment.

Digitizing processes and optimizing workflows

Digitizing processes is mission-critical for government bodies to process information seamlessly and communicate effectively with citizens, corporates, and other stakeholders. The ability to digitally transform all citizen-related document management processes, i.e., from birth to death, is the key to achieving transformation for municipal bodies. Municipalities must develop digitized SOPs across the lifecycle to function efficiently and improve citizen experience. 

Real-time data, analyzed and represented contextually, is also critical for executing projects successfully. To leverage the power of data, they must first digitize documents, extract data automatically, and re-align their processes by adopting automated workflows. All this eventually improves levels of governance through better SLA management of citizen services. 

MES offers scanning and records management services for municipal bodies 

Since 1971 we have provided document scanning services and records management solutions to help municipal offices achieve their digitization goals. Here are some of the services we offer: 

  • Scan and archive municipal records digitally: These include internal records such as official minutes of meetings, agendas or memorandums to civil works documents, building permits or city planning documents. Some of these have longer retention policies, so digital storage is affordable and easy to backup.
  • Develop online databases or portals:  We make digital records easily accessible using document management systems or online portals for citizens. Improved information sharing is critical for inter-departmental collaboration and makes services easily accessible online to citizens.
  • Maintain historical archives:  We digitize historic microfilm and microfiche collections for government institutions for improved access and secure digital storage. We can preserve and protect old original documents if digital copies are available for regular use. 
  • End-to-end document management solutions: We deploy on-premise or cloud-based document management solutions to support municipal bodies in managing documents throughout the lifecycle.
  • Process automation: We implement business process automation and workflow tools to automate manual paper processes. Automation saves time and costs and frees up in-house teams from tedious tasks so they can focus on more value-added and rewarding work.

Our document management solutions offer several benefits for municipal departments:

  • Provide a central document repository that is accessible to all authorized personnel from any location and any device
  • Provide easy-to-use, public access to government resources and information without the need for manual intervention from scarce staff resources
  • Reduce office space dedicated to paper storage
  • Reduce the incidence of lost or misfiled records 
  • Allow for easy and affordable digital backups that comply with disaster recovery planning and best practices
  • Protect and preserve historical paper records by eliminating the damage that comes with constant handling

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The end-goal of municipal digitization

The public sector tends to focus its digital initiatives only on improving front-end services. But the goal of municipal digitization is to deliver better outcomes using fewer resources by reinventing the way they deliver services. So, digital initiatives must focus as much on using technology to improve the functioning of municipal bodies, change the way they operate and manage services internally, and enhance their working practices.

Municipal bodies will have to digitize their processes and their records if they have to deliver to the changing demands of their citizens.

Ultimately, digitization that addresses scale is a must-have for public sector organizations—and it must result in improved service levels and cost savings. 

Talk to MES for specialized scanning and document management services for municipal bodies and government departments.

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