Digital imaging by Graphic Data will enable immediate access to development and building control applications online

Milton Keynes, July 21, 2005 - Blackpool Council has selected Graphic Data Online (GDO), a leading provider of automated document management and document processing services, to help meet e-Planning objectives.

Like many councils, Blackpool is focused on meeting the Pendleton criteria for e-Planning* adopted by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM). The Council receives around 2,000 development and building control applications per year, and faced two challenges: firstly, back-scanning past applications dating back to 1998 so that document images could be made available online; and secondly, having systems in place to scan new applications to make them immediately available on its Web site www.blackpool.gov.uk.

Anne Thornton, Business and Customer Services Manager at Blackpool Council, explained: “Applications are typically 15 pages each and we had three different storage rooms that were full of them, which made locating files quickly a real problem. As a first phase in our e-Planning process around 15,400 files for the period 1992 –2000 have been scanned by Graphic Data so that planning and building control officers can view everything on screen. We’re currently in the second phase, scanning files from 2001 to the present day.”

She added: “GDO looks after the whole process – their people arrange collection of the boxes of files, they then do the preparation of the files including removing staples and treasury tags, scan them in and then send us the digital images of the pages on a CD. Those images are then uploaded to our document management system, where they can be retrieved and viewed.”

The Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, Cllr Eddie Collett, added: “A lot of our planning enquiries can now be dealt with in our ‘one-stop shop’, which means that, if a member of the public comes in and wants to view one of the historic files, instead of having to wait for a member of the planning department team to source it, the customer service specialists can access the images on screen. It’s all about enhanced customer service.”

Thornton concluded: “It means we can speed up applications' processing quite considerably. The ODPM’s target for processing an application, from receipt to acknowledgement, is three days. Now we can process and acknowledge within a day or less.”

Once the entire back-scanning process is complete, Blackpool Council will be investigating the options for publishing images ‘live’ on its Web site, which Thornton anticipates will be September this year.

For further information call Graphic Data Online on + 44 (0) 1908 269600, email info@graphicdataonline.com, or visit www.graphicdataonline.com.

Media information:

Mike Davies
Managing Director
Graphic Data Online
Tel: + 44 (0) 1908 269600
Email: mike_davies@graphicdata.co.uk

Barry Monk
Next Communications
Tel: + 44 (0) 7811 336 943
Email: barry@next-communications.com

*The Pendleton Criteria www.pendleton-assoc.com/PPA-criteria.html has been adopted by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) as one of the measures of e-Planning progress. For further information visit www.odpm.gov.uk

About Graphic Data
Graphic Data is a leading provider of automated document management and document processing services. Today, we’re enabling leading public and private sector organisations to maximise the value of their information assets by taking away the pain of internal document processing, allowing them to achieve improved business and operational efficiency, enhanced customer and supplier services, and significantly reduced costs. For further information visit www.graphicdataonline.com.

Published on: 12:00AM on 21st July 2005