Digital Document Scanning

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Digital document scanning might have been something of a novelty as few as 10 years ago, but today it's pretty much a routine for many organizations. For a start, the technology has gotten quite affordable. Additionally, the software is considerably more sophisticated. These developments are enabling companies and government agencies and nonprofits of all types, operating budgets, and sizes to leave behind the traditional paper-based information systems that were threatening to swallow businesses whole.

In the migration to electronic record keeping, digital document scanning plays an especially significant role. Suddenly, the challenge of converting years of archived data--from funding proposals to environmental white papers to encryption study reports to corporate tax records--looks achievable. The gains in organizational efficiency, productivity, and vastly improved communications are not only plotted but real.

What's Involved in Digital Document Scanning

The technology is straightforward enough. The process captures a hard copy record--which might be a medical x-ray, a forensic photograph, or a printed manuscript--by taking a snapshot of it and recording it as an image, whether it's text or image, in binary format. If the document is text, the optical recognition software component of digital document scanning then analyzes the image and translates it into word processing text.

Using this technology on a small scale basis--creating a perfect visual replica of an 18th-century letter from Benjamin Franklin in a matter of two or three minutes, for example, or regenerating an MS Word document from the sole physical copy of a 300-page clinical report in a matter of perhaps 30 minutes--is intriguing and enjoyable. Taking it on a large-scale basis--converting hundreds of reams of printed materials and paper records to digital format in just a week or so--is simply amazing.


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