Intelligent Image Capture at Saskatchewan Ministry

Executive Summary

  • Public Sector
  • Enterprise-grade technology for scanning
  • Automation using optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR)
  • Integration with external database for validation

Business Case

It has been the experience of the Financial Programs Branch that large numbers of applications tend to come in at the program deadline and the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP) was no exception. In excess of 360 applications were received at the deadline. Normally this would have resulted in a backlog in data entry of the applications and delays in processing of the applications.

But this time, through the use of scanning technology that the branch has been working on for just this type of event, the applications were handled in record time. Three data processing clerks using this new technology and working very diligently were able to get most of the applications entered in a four day period. They estimated that they would have spent three to four weeks data entering the information manually.

Business Solution

ARC Business Solutions (ARC) began working with the Ministry of Agriculture in the summer of 2010 to implement a system for the capture of information on grant applications. This initial installation involved the implementation of an Electronic Input Management (EIM) system utilizing Adobe PDFs and EMC (Enterprise Information Management) Captiva/InputAccel technology.

With guidance from ARC, a fill-able PDF was created for the FRWIP application and posted on the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture website. Applicants were able to fill the form electronically or print it out and fill the form with hand written text. Applicants were then able to send the application by mail, fax or as email attachments.

The goal was to capture, validate and export hand written or typed data directly into the database with the use of scanning hardware and the EMC|Captiva InputAccel software. It was specifically designed to export the documents as a multi-page PDF file with no hidden text along with document metadata in an Oracle database table.

What is Captiva / InputAccel?

An electronic data capture solution able to capture information from almost any paper or electronic source and transform it into usable, business ready content and deliver it to a variety of back end systems.

Why was it being used?

To process FRWIP applications being sent to the Ministry of Agriculture via mail, email and fax. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) was performed on the applications during the process to extract data. Validation was then manually performed by data processing staff. The end result is that the data and PDF document were exported to our database for further processing by another Ministry application (Citrix).

How does it work?

The server was responsible for managing the batches throughout the process flow. Tasks are served to various unattended and attended client modules via the server. Stage files before and after each task are stored on the server.