Millions of local documents go digital in Clinton Township

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published June 28, 2019


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A multi-year process of transferring files from paper to an electronic inventory has been occurring in Clinton Township, providing both township staffers and the public with different ways to stay abreast to the past and the future.

An update was provided to the Township Board of Trustees June 17 in accordance with how the township has adapted to its Laserfiche software. Stephanie Chung, a records analyst, discussed how content inventory, analysis, planning, application migration and other forms are distributed by the Supervisor’s Office, the Clerk’s Office, the Building Department and more.

The software, which has been utilized since 2016, also aids contract management with township vendors, as well as provides the public with information regarding meeting agendas, minutes and the like.

Chung said that if the township decides to pursue a public form, rather than just the current existing work portal that is available for township staff, a lot of the information is “ready to go.”

Bryan Fatka is a solution account executive with General Code, a reseller of Laserfiche, and works closely with the township on this continuing digital endeavor. General Code works with more than 450 municipal communities nationwide.

He explained how various licenses allot for more information to be displayed both internally and publicly. Currently, the township does not have a public forms portal, which would cost more money, but would open more capability for constituents.

“Digital citizens — that’s the world we’re living in now,” Fatka said. “People want to be able to access information online.”

He used the example of a public portal where residents could realistically file a Freedom of Information Act request without using any paper, doing it completely digitally and complying with all necessary procedures. The same methodology would work with permits and other documents.

Fatka mentioned how the city of Lansing has a public portal that uses geographic information systems-like data to analyze cemetery headstones, which can be accessed via Laserfiche.

In Long Beach, California, he said, police officers use Laserfiche on mobile devices to enter incident reports and even use geotagging to search a radius for potential suspects.

“As most municipalities are really focusing on trying to be more transparent right now, you also have to be concerned about security,” he said. “Laserfiche, implemented the correct way, is Department of Defense-level certified. So, it can be made to be incredibly secure.”

The Clerk’s Office said the township pays about $76,000 for General Code, and about $65,000 for document imaging.

Clerk Kim Meltzer said the Laserfiche product is “a great product, a great tool for the public to be transparent.” It produces less of a delay, and is more efficient and cost effective.

Her office’s main focus is elections, Meltzer said, which is an “all-consuming endeavor.” But since last November’s election concluded, it has allowed for staffers to dive into records management and indexing.

“That momentum has been going; I don’t want to stop that,” she said.

She said there are about 3.9 million documents in the system currently, with probably 3 million documents added within the last six months. She thinks the township should think about a public portal that provides more access.

A future hire with project management experience may eventually be on the horizon.

“It all takes time,” Meltzer said. “Because we have so much documentation from the early 1900s going forward, we don’t have the time or the staff to scan all those documents ourselves. ... It definitely is a great tool to access information.”