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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

Imaging is the process of capturing, storing, displaying, and printing graphical information. This process includes the capturing of paper documents for archival purposes. Imaging procedures involve the use of scanners to capture the image and optical disks to store the many megabytes of information the captured images contain.

Imaging systems allow users on a network to store and call up imaged documents from centralized image storage systems. The network provides easy access to these files so users don't need to make a trip to the back-office storage area or request the files from an off-site location. Imaging is part of document processing and workflow applications that manage the way documents move through an organization.

Imaging is part of document processing and workflow applications that manage the way documents move through an organization. But imaging systems stand on their own. They are composed of hardware and software that manage the storage and archiving of documents for insurance companies, law offices, medical facilities, and other organizations that work with large volumes of paper. A well-known securities firm that processes large volumes of paper daily is imaging all its new accounts to phase in the technology. The process starts when new applications enter the system via fax machine. The application can then be viewed by a number of users and stored for later viewing.

Document imaging has many benefits, as listed here:

  • Imaging preserves the look of existing documents.
  • Documents are often difficult to translate into the fields and records of a database system. Imaging solves this problem. Record-type query information is added to the imaged document to assist in later retrieval.
  • Imaging can reduce the workload of data entry clerks, although they may need to tag fields as described above.
  • Documents are fully distributed, meaning that anyone in an organization can view them simultaneously.

Unlike paper systems, which could be lost in a fire, imaged documents provide a higher level of loss protection because they are easily replicated to various locations. Storing documents in multiple locations also makes them more accessible by the users at those locations. Images stored on optical disk are also easier to carry to off-site, secure locations. See Document Management and Storage Management Systems

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is another aspect of imaging. OCR converts character images on paper into the ASCII equivalent of the characters, which can then be stored on disk. ASCII information can also be edited and copied.

Imaging documents such as invoices and purchase order for processing and storage brings EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) to mind. If you are doing business with other companies on a regular basis, you should investigate this technology since it allows organizations to exchange standard electronic documents like invoices. See EDI (Electronic Data Interchange).

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.