The purpose of these guidelines is to provide advice in the
selection, purchase, implementation, and use of Electronic Document
Imaging Systems. These guidelines comprise recommendations and
standards developed by a wide range of organizations, both technical
and end-user. These guidelines were developed to assist in assuring
that Electronic Document Imaging Systems acquired by governments
in the State of Georgia meet existing legal and operational
requirements. Following these guidelines offers no guarantee
as to a system's integrity being questioned. However, following
the recommendations outlined in this document affords a defensible
system, which documents the users good faith efforts in employing
the best existing standards in this field.
These guidelines, and the work group assigned to create them,
recognize the timeliness and obsolescence of Information Technology.
It is hoped that these guidelines will be treated as a living
document, subject to change and improvement like the technology
1.1 Overview of Electronic Document Imaging
Electronic Document Imaging Systems are computer-based systems
that store digitally encoded document images. These systems
provide image retrieval and distribution on demand. They are
an alternative to paper or microfilm record systems.
2. Issues and Concerns
The adoption of an Electronic
Document Imaging System by an agency is a major administrative
and operational decision carrying responsibilities and commitments.
The use of Electronic Document Imaging Systems requires workflow
reassessment and the documentation of information management
procedures. Electronic Document Imaging Systems increase accessibility
and distribution of information in a timely manner. Application
software will allow accurate tracking of information for audit
Electronic Document Imaging Systems cannot solve access problems
stemming from inefficient or poorly planned existing information
management systems and practices. In fact, Electronic Document
Imaging Systems may exacerbate existing deficiencies. Maximum
benefits are realized when existing workflow procedures are
analyzed and adapted to take advantage of the new technology,
rather than just automating existing processes. Managers, in
consultation with qualified records managers, should analyze
the existing records systems, practices, workflow, and indexes,
and correct any deficiencies before implementing an imaging
2.1 Planning and Feasibility
Agencies should perform a feasibility study to ensure that
an Electronic Document Imaging System is appropriate for its
information management needs before committing to a particular
application. Agencies must realize that the information being
created or converted to an electronic format is an asset, which
needs to be managed for a larger, strategic advantage. Electronic
Document Imaging Systems will transform the way agencies do
business while dramatically improving productivity, effectiveness
and accountability. The following areas need to be analyzed
and evaluated before implementing any system:
- Business Process Analysis
- Work Flow Evaluation
- A complete inventory of existing records
- Data needs assessment
- Alternative technologies assessment
- Network support
- Costs/benefits analysis
- Projected growth
- Retention and legal requirements
Adopting a digital imaging system requires careful
and consistent documentation of all records and the technical
process, which converts traditional paper-based documents to
a digitized format. The agency should designate a system
administrator with the responsibility for system operations.
This person would be able to give knowledgeable testimony about
the technical aspect of the system and the procedures utilized
for the recording and maintenance of public information. The
compatibility of the proposed system with existing systems and
communication with other information systems outside the agency
need to be studied. Consideration needs to be given as to how
this system will interact with other systems.
2.3 Migration and Retention
A retention period is the time that records are needed for
administrative, fiscal, legal and historical purposes. All records,
including those stored in imaging systems, should be maintained
and disposed of as part of a legally accepted records management
program in order to ensure their acceptance as legal documents.
Maintaining access to records stored on Electronic Document
Imaging Systems requires a comprehensive migration strategy
. The strategy plan should factor in vendor stability, system
obsolescence and media longevity. Electronic Document Imaging
Systems should consist of hardware and software that conform
to non-proprietary standards and are constructed in open system
Obsolescence is a way of life in the information technology
world. Agencies need to keep pace with constant change and improvement.
This requires a proactive approach to system maintenance and
upgrade. New applications should be backward compatible
with existing applications. Administrators should also plan
to budget between five and ten percent of the original system,
annually for the cost of upgrading and data migration.
2.4 Legal Issues
Adopting Electronic Document Imaging Systems requires careful
and consistent documentation of all record actions and the technical
process, which convert traditional paper-based documents to
a digitized, electronic format. An agency utilizing Electronic
Document Imaging should prepare a formal statement describing
the mission and function of the office and the procedures and
digital standards employed. An agency's reliance in the new
electronic format, and its documentation of strict established
conversion procedures will ensure that the information and the
system generating it satisfy the rules of evidence.
The system capability to expunge (erase all traces of) images
and their related index entries will be required in some instances.
The potential for expungement orders must be must be considered
in planning and feasibility studies. AIIM TR28-1991, The
Expungement of Information Recorded on Optical Write-Many (WORM)
Systems, will offer guidance for meeting these requirements.
This technical report is now (1995) being updated to include
rewritable optical media.
2.4.2 Redaction of Confidential Information.
Image systems must have the capability to redact (mask or
hide) confidential portions of documents or indexes from public
inspection. All public records, except those specifically exempted
by law or court order, shall be open to public inspection.
3. Technical Guidelines
Digital imaging technologies have developed rapidly in the
last five years and will continue to develop into the next century.
As no system is generally regarded as a standard, it is important
to acknowledge that certain proprietary and non-proprietary
standards will emerge as generally accepted by the industry
and system developers, integrator users, and records managers.
Because of the rapid changes in technology and the entry and
exit of firms in the marketplace, it is important to set base
guidelines for the responsible implementation of these technologies.
The long-term nature of these digital storage mechanisms and
the significant value held in information assets of the various
agencies using these mechanisms motivates the adherence to international,
national, and industry standards relative to quality, storage,
security, indexing, and access. Records managers, systems administrators,
program managers, and systems vendors need to be familiar with
current standards that are applicable to this area of information
This subject is discussed in detail in a technical report
issued by the Association for Information and Image Management
(AIIM), The Use of Optical Disks for Public Records.
The following are general guidelines of key areas of interest
to anyone working with imaging systems. Attention to these key
areas will help ensure successful implementation of systems
and long-term responsibility for valuable records.
System documentation: If you wish to maintain an effective
operation and continue to retrieve data as your operating environment
changes over time, you must keep full documentation of:
- Hardware and software, including brand names, version numbers
and dates of installation, upgrades, replacements, and conversions.
- Data structure and content, including the file layout and
- "Enhancement" algorithms. These are techniques for processing
an image so that the result is visually clearer than the original
- Operating procedures, including methods for scanning or
entering data; revising, updating, or expunging records; indexing;
backing up disks, tapes, microfilm, etc.; testing the readability
of records; applying safeguards to prevent tampering and unauthorized
access to protected information; and carrying out the disposition
of original records. In addition, to provide audit trails,
you should document procedures for logging and tracking.
Full documentation of your operating procedures will contribute
to the legal acceptability of your records management program
and will help to make the data you produce from optical disks
admissible as evidence in legal proceedings.
3.2 Hardware and Software Selection and Specification
When you are selecting a system, strongly consider those with
open rather than proprietary designs; open systems will give
you the most flexibility when you are choosing equipment and
will support interconnection, information system integration,
and information sharing.
Prepare specifications for hardware and software that will
require your vendors to continue to support and maintain their
Establish performance standards, incorporate them into your
specifications for hardware and software, and require vendors
to support them with a substantial performance bond.
Select systems that provide a scanning resolution with enough
density to produce a high-quality image. Scanners should have
verifiable quality and should be at a density of at least 200
dots per inch for textual documents and 300 dots per inch for
engineering drawings, maps, and other documents. Calibration
and maintenance of the scanners should be as per the manufacturers
Verification and inspection: Include visual inspection
in your operational procedures to verify the completeness and
accuracy of the scanning process once documents have been transferred
to a disk.
Seek vendors who use standard rather than proprietary compression algorithms
to make future migrations of data more certain and reliable.
Imaging systems shall utilize the Consultative Committee on
International Telegraphy and Telephony (CCITT) Group 3 or Group
4 compression techniques without proprietary alterations to
If the use of a proprietary compression algorithm is unavoidable, the system
must provide a gateway to either Group 3 or Group 4 standards.
Require vendors to supply programs or provide services to test the readability
of your disks periodically. Agencies must ensure readability
of electronically stored images. A sampling of images from both
primary and backup storage media must be read annually to verify
3.3 Data Indexing and Image Headers
When information is stored in a medium that
is not human-eye-readable, complete and accurate indexes
are essential. Your system design, therefore, must include provisions
for appropriate indexing. When information will be retrieved
for many years from records that will be retained and used over
a long period, for example, you must develop and document indexes
with future users in mind and include in your operational procedures
an index check for accuracy at the time the index is created.
The index storage method should be based on standard relational
database technologies with access using standard SQL queries.
3.3.2 Image headers
A standard image file header such as TIFF or vendor supplied
image file header should be used. If a proprietary header is
used, the system must provide a bridge to a non-proprietary
header label standard such as ANSI/AIIM MS53.
3.4 Media Handling, Backup, Storage
Label disks, tapes, and other storage containers with particular care
since it is impossible to determine content merely by looking
at a disk or tape. Labeling is critical when the disk and its
index are stored on different media. Security copies shall be
marked with appropriate external labels that identify the government
entity, system and software used, and any access restrictions.
The agency should maintain specific, detailed documentation
of the contents and the system specifications needed to access
each backup tape or disk.
3.4.2 Back-up and storage
It is vital to make full, frequent, and regular backups
of optical records and magnetic indexes. Store your security
copies in secure and suitable facilities, preferably off-site,
and since environmental conditions for the storage of optical
disks have not been established, follow the manufacturers' specifications.
Agencies should adhere to the manufacturer's recommendations
for temperature and humidity conditions for the storage of security
copies of optical media. Backups for indexes, images, and other
system components stored on magnetic media or optical media
should be housed in an area with stable environmental conditions.
Room temperatures (between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and
relative humidity (40 to 45 percent) are the current standard
for magnetic media. These should also be observed for security
copies of optical media.
3.4.3 Refreshment, migration, and conversion plans
Prepare an appropriate plan for "refreshing" data and for migrating
and converting images and corollary indexes to new storage
media as needed to preserve the records in an accessible form.
Data maintained on electronic media should be recopied onto
new media at least once every 10 years.