Software Development

Meet the software company helping the federal government digitize its records

Ibml helps federal agencies digitalize anything from housing records to government contracts and more.

No more of this.

(Photo by Flickr user Isaac Bowen, used under a Creative Commons license)

By year’s end, your image of what government agency offices look like may no longer involve a labyrinth of filing cabinets.

After December, all records from federal government agencies must be created, managed and maintained electronically.

And where there’s a mandate requiring electronic documents, there’s always software following close behind. One company, Ibml, has been at the forefront of digitalizing ever since its early role in doing the same for airline tickets. Now, it’s released a new tool, known as Capture Suite, to help agencies digitize their documents in accordance with the Federal Agencies Digital Guidance Initiative (FADGI). This tool builds off the Birmingham, Alabama-headquartered company’s ongoing work with several federal agencies in DC.

FADGI, which was launched in 2007, established measurable targets for digitalizing records, archives and other historical documents. They measure qualities as varied as cover files specifications, color encoding, data storage, physical environment, backup strategies, metadata and workflow on a scale of 1 to 4 (the higher the better). Getting a 3 rating means that a document is of a good enough digital quality that you can extract and sufficiently archive all of its information.

Or, as Ibml VP Susheel John put it, the document is sufficient not only for the mandate requirement but also for the original to be destroyed.

“Nobody needs to store those physical documents if it is not legally required for any reason,” John said. “You don’t have to physically store them anymore and you can destroy them.”

Using a mix of hardware and software developed in C#, Ibml converts documents like land records, mortgages and others that are typically rendered in legal or A3 size (the software isn’t typically used for larger documents such as maps). The Ibml software recognizes a document, extracts its information and then makes the information available.

John calls it an “intelligent scanner,” as it can understand abstract information. Typically, he said, Ibml’s customers have a minimum of about 30,000 records or documents they’re trying to digitize daily; That breaks down to about 700 pages per minute.

Susheel John. (Courtesy photo)

“Digital transformation has become a forefront in the thought process for everybody, whether you’re in government or otherwise,” John said. “There are so many benefits of doing this.”

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According to John, this process offers several benefits for federal agencies beyond what the mandate suggests. Digitizing records enables virtual workflows and helps employees work faster, he said. He also thinks documents will be more protected, for while there’s a smaller chance of people gaining access to a physical record, digital ones can be protected with the locks and keys of cybersecurity. There’s also a potential for increased transparency since documents that don’t need to be protected can be put online for constituents to view. And more transparency, hopefully, means more accountability and better government.

“Overall, the processes and operations within governments improve and you are able to develop a better service to the clients itself,” John said.

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