Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Print to PDF: How One City in New York Went Paperless


Tompkins County, New York is a quiet place nestled in the heart of the state. Widely known for being the home of Cornell University (one of the elite Ivy League schools), the county boasts a population of just over 100,000 people total. But what is more remarkable here is not the school or the location, but rather how they’ve handled their administrative documents recently.

Back in 2005, the county was at a crossroads in regards to their paper records management. Faced with an overflowing storage center, the best estimates for building a new facility or renovating the existing one had a hefty price tag of anywhere from $2.3 to 6 million dollars – causing significant pain even in the relatively halcyon days before the recent economic recession. Compounding the situation was the sheer amount of records involved; the city of Ithaca had been founded in 1817 and with time had accrued over 200 years worth of civil/criminal court cases, land deeds, or other official documents.

However, a different kind of solution emerged after brainstorming sessions by the IT staff and administrators. Instead of building a new facility, the option of scanning their paper records into a new digital format emerged with a cost of only around $400,000; presenting up to 67% savings. Additionally, with the money saved on storage costs, the program of digitization could further be expanded to other areas of the city administration with compounded savings on operations. The plan of backfile scanning was projected to take around 9 years, with other records management programs operating concurrently.

Recently completed, the way Tompkins County handles their records today is a complete 180 degree turnaround from their situation in 2005.  The county clerk’s office scans all roughly 5,900 court cases it handles a year on the day they’re created, making them available via secured internet connections to all parties involved with a case. Additionally, all administrative paperwork is digitized as soon as possible, creating an ideal disaster recovery scenario. Giving key employees remote access to digital documents enables them to do their jobs from their homes in the event of an emergency, reducing congestion on the roadways and ensuring that essential services continue to function.

Hopefully this example illustrates some of the benefits that can be acquired through using an effective document scanning solution. Even if you’re not a governmental organization with a 200 year backlog of paper files, the return on investment of having such a system in place vastly outweighs any perceived downsides that might be proposed. Here at The Data Vault, not only do we offer backfile scanning as detailed above; but we also offer dedicated image hosting for scanned files through our secure web portal, and can accommodate workflow scanning to upload paper records as they are created for seamless integration. If you have any questions about scanning services and how it can save you time and money, head on over to our contact form.


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