LaserFiche in bid to store Kiwi "crown jewels"

A Wellington company hopes to store historical New Zealand documents using its newly launched LaserFiche document storage system.

A Wellington company hopes to store historical New Zealand documents using its newly launched LaserFiche document storage system.

LaserFiche has operated in the US for over a decade in various guises, claiming 5000 users, but only three months ago was a New Zealand subsidiary launched, receiving its public debut at the e-commerce summit in Auckland.

Director Ian Haldane says LaserFiche New Zealand, which was also founded by Kiwi electronic publishing pioneer Richard Chan a few months ago, brought the software over from the US in a bid to scan and digitise 1.5 million pages of journals from the New Zealand House of Representatives.

"It has huge potential for ASPs and data warehouses," he says.

In the US, the system is mainly used by law enforcement agencies, such as the courts and the police, but Haldane says it can also be used by accountants, lawyers and others, including storing documents like the House of Representatives 'A-J's from 1854 to the present.

The system works on Windows-based system and has a Pervasive database engine.

"It has an ability to bridge paper and electronics. It enables people to have common means to all sorts of information.

"You can bring up legacy systems in electronic form or pick them up in natural form. No matter what sort of form you can handle it," he says.

Haldane says there are competing products, but adds they don't have the elegance or power of his system.

To date, he only has one New Zealand-based customer - a Christchurch-based international physician - but reports 40 inquiries at the summit, which are being followed up. Talks are also underway with Clear and Telstra-Saturn about using them using the system.

Haldane's charitable trust Taonga 2000 is also talking with government ministers about digitising New Zealand's historical records, but he says any decision is "some way off." However, trials are underway.

"It would be of interest in the Treaty of Waitangi land claims. It keeps the images in an unalterable form, which is really fundamental to the legal process, as when things go into electronic format they can be altered and challenged," he says.

Laserfiche comes in a range of sizes and starts from $25,000, based on the number of users. An ASP-type arrangement is also being considered.

The Christchurch-based optometrist, who declines to be identified, has been using Laserfiche for five years.

It scans unsorted documents using optical character recognition and has a searchable text base.

"You have a massive database and somebody asks for a document. You type in keywords and in a few minutes or less, it finds it," he says.

The optometrist has used another system, but its producer pulled out of the market, so the software could not be updated. Laserfiche, meanwhile, has been around a long time, has many major users, so offers long-lasting service, and is useful when he travels.

"Tens of thousands of pages of data on a CD and I can carry them around on the plane. That is lovely," he says.

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