3.6 Million Records Flooded: The Houghton County Courthouse Hurt by Washed-Out Paper Storage Methods

159_houghtoncountyHoughton County, a common summer hiatus for many Michiganders, has suffered a not-so-hot summer.

Just as the county was closing several of its beaches due to high bacteria levels, the Houghton County Courthouse fell victim to a flood that drenched its more than 3.6 million paper documents. The water infiltrated the storage vault in the courthouse’s basement and was absorbed by almost all the county’s circuit, family and probate records. Without these records, the Houghton county residents will be delayed from doing things like changing a name on their driver’s license or even obtaining proof of property deeds.

Livonia’s Document Restoration Services is on the case and working with the Houghton County Courthouse to recover its records. A preliminary estimate gauged the recovery project at $443,714 (yes, you read those six figures correctly!), and includes vacuum freezing the records, water/sewage cleaning and drying the microfilm. From there, a machine will separate any pages that are stuck together.

Preventing Natural Disasters From Becoming PR Disasters

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for natural disasters like flooding to turn into PR disasters for government agencies and counties. By no means is it ever anyone’s fault that a flood, fire, or any destructive force of nature occurs, but organizations should make it an utmost priority to protect the records and sensitive information stored within their care. This is especially true for government agencies like secretary of state offices or county courthouses, which warehouse millions of records for thousands of people.

So, if you were listening to Diana Ross cassette tapes or streaming 21 Pilots while watching filing cabinets rise up in your office space, it might be time to digitize. After all, our music, precious family photos and video, school projects, and so much more are now stored within a cloud. What’s the hurdle to doing the same with sensitive data?

No, there’s not an app for this (yet), but there is a highly configurable solution that’s modernizing counties, government agencies, courts, and many other document-dependent organizations across the nation.

It’s a Repository! It’s a Workflow! It’s Both – It’s An ECM!

ImageSoft has partnered with OnBase® by Hyland to bring nation-wide organizations a 360° view of (and easy access to!) their records, documents, and information. With an enterprise content management system (ECM), also called an enterprise document management system (EDMS), an organization’s records and history are not only protected by digital storage, they also give an efficiency boost to their productivity, significantly reduce (if not eliminate) physical storage costs and space, and ease standard procedures with automation.

Aside from natural disaster protection, social trends are also starting to threaten the progression of many organizations. As identified by a blog from earlier this year, retiring baby boomers are unknowingly taking their organization’s history and ideas with them. The growth of many reputable organizations has long depended on the head knowledge of those who have worked with the organization for decades, but the executives didn’t realize this until those key operators retired and their information source was gone.

With an ECM/EDMS, you never have to fret about retiring valuable knowledge of processes or rules along with a few retiring employees or unfortunate times of higher turnover. With an ECM, every documented procedure, project, note, document, and other critical information is secured and stored just a few clicks away.

Clerks Know Best

Since the expensive flood last month, Houghton County Clerk Jennifer Lorenz told The Daily Mining Gazette that she plans to suggest digitally backing up the county’s records. “To me, that’ll be almost at no cost, so why would we not start going ahead, for the future?” said Lorenz.

As the ones responsible for managing hundreds of thousands of documents and the frontline for communicating with a foot-tapping public, clerks know better than anyone that counties need to move past the paper and dive into digital storage. With tracked progress, point-and-click redactions, full audit trails, multiple-user visibility and access, and electronic notifications (eNotifications), clerks are able to stay on top of timelines and carry their county’s customer service to record heights (pun intended) without needing additional employees or regular over-time hours.

Ready to Rise Above the Paper (literally and figuratively)?

To continuously move your county forward and keep up with the demanding pace of society, you need to be equipped with the tools specifically designed to overcome the hurdles of your era. In the case of counties, government agencies, and many document-dependent organizations, this means saying “G2G*” to paper and “hello!” to the paper powerhouse that is ECM/EDMS. Contact us today to learn more about customizing an implementation plan that caters to your organization’s needs.

With the uncontrollable risks of natural disasters, retiring executives, and revolving staff, what’s holding your county back from moving forward with digital records?

*G2G is the text acronym for got-to-go, or “see you later”

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