A 24x7 Virtual City Hall: Irvine Records and Information System (IRIS)
The City of Irvine, incorporated in 1971, is a full service city with a population in excess of 156,000 residents. The organizational structure consists of 570 employees; including four elected City Council members, an elected Mayor, a City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk and five departments. These departments are Public Works, Community Services, Administrative Services, Community Development, and Public Safety.
The City also has five Advisory Commissions: Community Services Commission, Finance Commission, Planning Commission, Senior Citizen’s Council, and the Transportation & Infrastructure Commission.
The FBI has rated the City of Irvine as the 10th safest city in the nation (with a population over 75,000). The City of Irvine has also received the 2002 Accessible America Award, which recognized Irvine for being one of the most “disability friendly” cities in the nation.
The City of Irvine promotes effective government by assuring that the City organization is flexible, market-based and customer focused in its service delivery. Specifically, one of City Council’s priorities is to assure that the government organization is responsive and cost-effective. With this priority in mind and the vision of a 24x7 virtual City Hall, the need for an EDMS and Imaging project was identified.
The City of Irvine was looking for an innovative way to access all city records, and created the concept of a “Virtual City”. The Virtual City would allow access to public records 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via a web interface to the Irvine Records and Information System (IRIS). IRIS would be implemented in the Office of Records and Information, a division of the City Clerk.
The Office of Records and Information is responsible for the care and custody of all official records and documents of the city. The division provides and maintains all legal and historical records and information for the City of Irvine. Other important functions of the Office of Records and Information include insuring the integrity of the City’s records, providing accessibility for public requests and compliance with retention requirements. This division provides citywide controls over the creation, maintenance, disposition and retention of all City records.
The Office of Records and Information has a centralized Records Center and is currently responsible for preparing all permanent records for microfilming with an offsite vendor and all quality control. The Office of Records and Information is solely responsible for all aspects including scanning, indexing and management of the EDMS.
The Records Management Department currently responds to over 250 record requests monthly. The job requests for research of documents originate from:
- Community Development 45%
- Administrative Services (HR& Finance) 20%
- City Clerks Office 15%
- Public Works 9%
- Community Services 8%
- City Managers Office 2%
- Public Safety (Police Department) 1%
They also Quality Control (QC), index, file and process documents and drawings for microfilming; which is necessary to permanently archive and store vital information.
The Records Management Department currently maintains the City’s vital original hard copy records and long-term records, as well as various other media such as CD-ROM, Magnetic Tapes, Microfilm/Microfiche and City Council and Commission meeting recordings. Currently the Records Management Department functions with both paper and microfilm document systems. Converting those documents to digital images would enhance the efficiency of the Records Department and improve public and internal access to records. Record retrieval via the Internet would increase production throughout the City’s operations.
For example, citizens would have the ability to apply for business permits, schedule inspections and register for classes and activities online. In addition, the system would allow city employees such as the Mayor or council members to research past resolutions, ordinances and projects from a central location, or allow for architects to pull drawings for buildings.
Without an EDMS, Irvine has only a few choices to manage their documents. As a result, precious tax dollars are budgeted for space and labor to manually store, retrieve and process the paper documents, rather than improving systems for more efficient storage and retrieval. The City of Irvine needed to reduce the legal costs for producing or not producing records conforming to record retention policies.
There were also issues with multiple copies of documents. Without revision control, there was no confidence that one had the most recent version of a record. The City of Irvine also wanted a central location to retrieve records and associated documents. Without all these things, the objective of a virtual system was impossible.
Therefore, the objective of the IRIS project was to update the City’s document management program based on current technology in coordination with the IT department’s computer strategic plan and convert the City’s current and legacy documents from paper and microfilm to electronic images.
The AlphaCorp Solution
Specifically, the objectives of the Electronic Document Management and Backfile Conversion project were to:
- Establish an electronic record capture (Capture) facility within the City’s Office of Records and Information, a division of the City Clerk’s department.
- Deploy a networked Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) throughout the City
- Install an Internet interface (Web) to empower the public with access to public City documents
- Populate the EDMS with images of existing information through Backfile Conversion Services (BCS)
In the first phase of the project, the city went through procurement, vendor identification, and the purchase of the hardware and software.
Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), the information technology solutions provider to the City of Irvine, sought proposals from qualified bidders to provide an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) including software, imaging hardware, training, and implementation services, and Backfile Conversion Services (BCS) for a major installation at the City.
The selection process included in-house demos, one-on-one interviews, numerous reference checks, detailed questionnaires, site visits, and weekly project meetings. Vendor(s) were selected based on the following criteria:
- Demonstrated experience with similar projects involving municipal government or other public agencies
- Demonstrated ability to manage and coordinate projects
- The quality, speed, features, and scope of the hardware, software, and conversion capabilities
- The level of training and maintenance that could be provided
- The thoroughness of the material submitted, including the detailed approach to the work plan
- Results or reference checks and site visits
- The proposed price for the system and services
- The ability to provide seamless integration of the EDMS with the varied media and index criteria within the City
The EDMS selection committee for the City of Irvine chose AlphaCorp’s SIRE products for the EDMS and workflow solution.
The second part of phase one included the initiation of a backfile conversion. The City has a substantial volume of paper and microfilm documents to be entered into the EDMS, including 8 ½ x11 documents, microfilm, 16mm jackets, 35mm jackets and large format drawings. For the backfile legacy document conversion, there are approximately 7,700,000 microfilm images containing 60% Permits, 20% Development Case files, 10% Financial, and 10% Human Resources files.
Today, the City is creating approximately 750,000 pages of information annually that is suitable for imaging. Each of these documents has a life cycle ranging from three years to permanent retention. The City also manages 26,000 large format drawings per year. To date, there are over 225k records and 640k associated images in the system. The City expects this number to be in the millions when IRIS is fully populated.
Image-to-Microfilm Conversion System
For phase two of the project, AlphaCorp provided a custom archive writer, which creates a secure backup copy of the system. The City wanted to continue to use microfilm as the long-term storage media for preserving its records. In the past, documents were indexed, microfilmed, and stored. Now, when image-enabled, the City will reproduce the captured electronic images to an archival storage media (microfilm) with an image-to-microfilm conversion system. AlphaCorp also provided a custom pre-processor that was written for the image submission approval process.
Automated, Timed Distribution of Agendas to Multiple Recipients
On May 19, the SIRE Agenda Plus portion of the system went live to electronically assemble the City’s meeting agendas, then automatically route to individual users so that the meeting is assembled in the correct order.
The City Portal
The final phase of the project is the development of a city portal and is a primary goal of the EDMS initiative. The interface that will allow the public access to view and possibly print these images when requested. Some features of this integration include:
materials, insure quick delivery of documents on a page-level, and will deliver many other object formats such as Word documents.
- Customized screens that conform to the City’s Internet design and are “user-friendly” in identifying and retrieving images.
- Images delivered in TIFF, JPEG, or PDF formats, depending on the user’s viewing capabilities.
- A system that establishes security levels to protect vital City records, prevent reproduction of copyright
Future Projects: Integration With Third Party Software
In the near future, IRIS will likely be integrated with the following applications:
- Records Management System –RecFind to manage hardcopy documents
- Geographical Information System (GIS) –ESRI / ArcView to link maps, plans, surveys and permits to the GIS system
- Financial System – IFAS (BiTech) for financial accounting, to attach payable documentation to checks and manage purchase order processing
- Building Permit System – Inforum Gold (Eden)
The Results and Benefits
Without IRIS, Irvine had only a few choices to manage their documents. As a result, precious tax dollars are budgeted for space & labor to manually store, retrieve and process the paper documents, rather than improving systems for more efficient storage and retrieval. Moreover, there are legal costs for producing or not producing records conforming to record retention policies, which the EDMS will reduce.
With the installation of IRIS, documents are stored, catalogued, indexed and retrieved quickly. Instead of hours searching for records in filing cabinets and via the Records Management Department, documents can be retrieved in seconds at desktops. In addition, the integrity of the files is maintained. The City has been able to establish workflow rules and procedures for processing vital records that will provide accountability during processing and the final file location of the record.
With the new portal, the city will achieve improved community relations by providing easier and more efficient access to information for the community electronically through the Internet.
According to the IRIS Project Manager and the City’s Records Manager, the benefits of choosing AlphaCorp as the EDMS vendor are numerous. As a vendor, AlphaCorp has gone above and beyond to ensure the success of the IRIS project. AlphaCorp has incorporated the City’s enhancement suggestions into the SIRE product. The SIRE products have also been beneficial in that the City did not have to change their business practices in order to accommodate the product. In the end, nothing else off the shelf could do what the SIRE products could.