Streamlining the Information Process in Government Agencies -- one OCR at a time

By Joe Budelli posted 08-25-2010 11:46


For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we think about the government is the overwhelming bureaucracy that seems evident in nearly every government agency.  And with that bureaucracy comes paperwork, lots of paperwork.  Whether it’s the U.S. Census Bureau, Central Intelligence Agency, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or the Social Security Administration, and so many more government agencies, the amount of paper has become a roadblock.  Whether it’s forms processing, paper transactions, records keeping or document archiving, there’s a huge need – and opportunity – for OCR.

Each agency needs its own major document capture initiative to streamline transactional documents and to reduce the stacks of paper and hard copy files. Whether it is outsourcing OCR to enable the digitization of paper, using mobile capture on the frontlines of battle, or utilizing cloud computing to share documents, from a technology standpoint, any way to reduce the amount of paperwork can help the agencies deliver services faster to those in need.

Take the Department of Veteran Affairs, for example.  The VA provides veterans with Disability, Education and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Home Loan Guaranty, Dependant and Survivor Benefits, Medical Treatment, Life Insurance and Burial Benefits, but too many times there are delays in processing.  Our veterans deserve these benefits and they shouldn’t be waiting for them because there isn’t a system in place to digitize benefit applications.  What if there could be a mobile application that would allow a veteran to apply for benefits via their smart phone? 

On the other side of using OCR on government applications, on-the-spot data capture can provide a valuable resource to our soldiers on the front lines.  Imagine a soldier in Afghanistan coming across a cache of written documents that needs to be conveyed back to the U.S.   Transporting these written documents could be very risky and take valuable time, time that our military doesn’t have when they are on patrol.  Soldiers can use mobile capture and cloud computing to be linked to intelligence resources, such as aerial images and translation software. Modern mobile technology allows for application development that can allow soldiers to take a photo of a street sign, upload it, and immediately receive intelligence on the local area. And you don’t have to take my word for it, last year Newsweek reported that the U.S. military issues the Apple iPod Touch as a modern weapon to help soldiers make sense of information from ground sensors, drones, and satellites.

These are just a few examples of using modern data capture technology, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface the ways that OCR, especially mobile applications which tap in cloud computing resources, can help the government streamline their lengthy document process.  I’ve talked about some ideas that I’ve seen on the government front on how the paper process can be streamlined, do you have any other ideas of how to make our government run better, one OCR at a time?

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