Waverley Borough Council Home Page Waverley Borough Council Home Page


Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 18/09/2001
Document Image Processing for Development Control



Document Image Processing (DIP) involves the scanning, storage and retrieval of documents using a computer system. It has been adopted by the Council within the Revenues, Benefits and the Central Records services.

The report proposes the introduction of Image Processing to the Planning and Development department within the Development Control service. The system would be implemented in two phases during the current financial year with the first phase involving the storage and retrieval of decision notices and the second phase extending the system to capture application details and plans and display them on the Council's web site and at meetings of Area Development Control Sub-Committees.

There are resource and environmental implications contained in the report, however, there are no human rights, “Opportunities for All” or community safety implications.
APPENDIX C

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE - 18TH SEPTEMBER 2001

________________________________________________________________________
Title:
DOCUMENT IMAGE PROCESSING FOR DEVELOPMENT CONTROL

[Wards Affected: All]
________________________________________________________________________
Summary and Purpose

Document Image Processing (DIP) involves the scanning, storage and retrieval of documents using a computer system. It has been adopted by the Council within the Revenues, Benefits and the Central Records services.

The report proposes the introduction of Image Processing to the Planning and Development department within the Development Control service. The system would be implemented in two phases during the current financial year with the first phase involving the storage and retrieval of decision notices and the second phase extending the system to capture application details and plans and display them on the Council's web site and at meetings of Area Development Control Sub-Committees.

There are resource and environmental implications contained in the report, however, there are no human rights, “Opportunities for All” or community safety implications.

________________________________________________________________________

Introduction and Background

1. The Council has a long standing relationship with Comino plc for the provision and support of image processing systems. The company was chosen in a competitive tendering exercise three years ago to supply a system to Revenues and Benefits. In June 1999, following the successful implementation of these systems, the Operations Committee considered the relative merits of extending Image Processing to either the Central Records or the Development Control function. Central Records was selected for implementation ahead of Development Control because the "minitrieve" system used to store the Central Records was beyond economic repair. Comino plc were awarded the contract to supply the required software in November 1999.

2. The benefits of DIP having been accepted, the Council approved the inclusion of 50,000 in the 2000/2001 capital programme and Development Control was selected as the next area for implementation. However, owing to the increased workloads resulting from Best Value in the Planning Department and the consequent lack of staff available to aid in the implementation of a DIP system, it was agreed that the 50,000 for Image Processing should be moved into the current year's capital programme and remain available to Development Control.


Scope of the project

3. The project will involve the scanning and storage of documents relating to the development control process, including plans. Documents will be available on line to staff and also to the public via the Council's web site.

4. It is proposed that the project should be implemented in two phases as follows:

Phase 1

Decision Notices which are currently held on Microfilm will be transferred to an image processing system and be made available to planning and land charges staff. A computer server will be required to hold the images and software supplied by Comino plc will allow staff to retrieve and view the images.

Phase 2

Procedures will be put in place to scan incoming planning application documents and an interface will be developed to display relevant images on the web site. The images could also be used in improved presentations on the more major applications to members at the Area Sub-Committees. Members will recall that it was a recommendation from the Development Control Fundamental Service Review that the Council should "make available all current planning applications, including plans and drawings, on the web-site by April 2002".

Benefits

5. The benefits to be derived from DIP are as follows:

The quality of digital images is better than microfilm
Many of the microfilm cartridges are old and deteriorating. Digital images do not deteriorate and can be backed up securel
Digital images may be easily and quickly retrieved. Microfilm readers are slow and cumbersome
Image processing will provide wide access to documents both internally and to the public through the web site. This is in line with the e-government target for all transactions to be capable of being conducted electronically by 2005.

Resource/environmental implications

6. This report only deals with the resource requirements for the first phase of the project. A proposal for phase two will be presented in a separate report to follow towards the end of the year.

Phase 1 Initial Costs

Software and services supplied by Comino plc 9,750
Computer hardware for image storage 7,100
Database management software 1,300
Training 2,100
20,250


Phase 1 annual costs

Maintenance on Comino software 1,465

7. There may eventually be a reduction in paper usage within the Council and in copies of agendas sent to the public. There may also be some reduction in journeys to visit Council Offices.

Conclusion

8. The Council has recognised the benefits that flow from Document Image Processing. Development Control generates large quantities of paper which would benefit from transfer to a computer system both for internal and public access and the proposed system would increase the efficiency of document management and information retrieval within the department.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the expenditure of 20,250 for the purchase of hardware, software and services to implement phase 1 of the proposed project be approved and that such expenditure be met from within the 2001/02 IT Capital Programme budget of 50,000 for Image Processing.

________________________________________________________________________
Background Papers (DoF)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

________________________________________________________________________

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Director of Planning & Development Telephone: 01483 869463
E-mail: sthwaites@waverley.gov.uk

Philip Tucker Telephone: 01483 869157
E-mail: ptucker@waverley.gov.uk