Council files going digital

Residents wanting information held on Invercargill City Council property files will enjoy much faster service in the future as the city’s property files go digital.

Council’s property files are currently housed in the basement of the Central Administration Building and comprise thousands of paper files which are accessed daily by Council staff as well as members of the public. As part of this project, files will be scanned and digitally recorded in order to both safeguard the information and to make access exponentially easier in the future.

Council Group Manager Customer and Environment Trudie Hurst said due to the scale of the project Council has partnered with a digitisation specialist to make sure the work is completed as quickly as possible.

“There are 33,000 files in our archive to be scanned and some of them are over 100 years old. It can take our staff quite some time to access files that people need for all sorts of reasons, and completing the project within a faster timeframe to maximise the benefits is the logical way forward.”

Ms Hurst said the digitisation will not only support Council activities but also improve the quality of services provided to the community.

“Each month we get over 300 requests for the files so the turnaround time once the files are digitised will be a lot faster. It is also hoped the digitisation will shorten the time it takes to get a LIM report,” she said.

Council has partnered with digitisation specialists Power Business Services (PBS) who are preparing and digitising the property files locally at their newly-opened Invercargill office. The local presence means the digitisation project team will be able to ensure teams and customers needing to access information are supported while files are being scanned and put online.

PBS Chief Executive Desi Lorand said the company was excited to be working with Council for this important project.

“PBS has a long history and strong track record in Property File Digitisation for Councils – including councils in both New Zealand and Australia and having won various awards for Digitisation Project Management using PBS software,” she said.

“PBS knows Invercargill well, having already completed Southland District Council’s extensive property file digitisation project three years ago.”

Ms Hurst said digitisation of property files will also streamline other Council services by making it faster and simpler for Council staff to access files and related information.

“It’s great that we’re going to be able to bring a traditionally paper based record into the digital age. Working with a company prepared to deliver our project locally is always a bonus.”

A request for a property file will be able to be requested by email, in person, by phone or by completing a property file request form and emailing it to Council and have the file sent as an email.

The digitisation project began in 2015, where it was estimated it would take until 2031 for all the files to be made available online. Council identified the need to deliver this project within a faster timeframe during the LTP and was now, with the help of PBS, aiming for the project to be completed within the next two years.