Gallup ups its capture

"The progress of mankind depends in large measure upon new ideas, and the rate of this progress in turn depends largely upon the speed with which the ideas are disseminated."--George H. Gallup, 1901-1984

T he Gallup Organization founder likely would have approved of a recent technology shift his company has made to speed the capture of survey-based knowledge.As part of a transition to its 21st century business model, Gallup just brought in new technology to speed the capture of survey data. The Gallup Polls, which are probably the best known part of Gallup's business, and other Gallup research surveys are gathered by mailed questionnaires or interviewers filling out paper forms. Capturing, verifying and moving that data along electronically now will be handled by a Datacap (www.datacap .com) system.Driving the need is a dramatic growth in the number of surveys the 10-person imaging and scanning department is handling, according to Julie Krupicka, operations manager of the Gallup mail survey processing center in Lincoln, NE. This year, the department will handle about 8 million pages, with an expected increase of 10 million to 12 million next year.The department considered upgrading its existing imaging system, and has kept its existing hardware, BancTec S-Series (www.banctec.com) and Ricoh (www .ricoh.com) production-level scanners.One advantage of choosing the Datacap solution was the ability to capture, perform recognition and verification on numerous types of formsÑwhat Datacap markets as "total capture.""One thing that's unique about Gallup is that we have many different types of forms coming inÑit's not like a tax department where there are just a few form types," said Krupicka.The Datacap solution, which will be operational in Gallup's Lincoln office next month and in Singapore and Beijing later this year, is based on the Task Master 2000 enterprise platform.The workflow and control components of the system are expected to help in the management of the 'whole project." Krupicka expects to be able to track where certain batches are and how far along they are."We'll be able to track whole projects while they are still in the system. We'll be able to say, 'That batch is being worked on in Beijing' or 'Suzie is doing that at home,'" she said.Part of that functionality will come from Datacap's new ICapture, which allows users to monitor and track from a Web browser."We hope that by adding some controls, we will be able to put the best people on specific tasks" that are suited to their skills, Krupicka said.Gallup's process will remain basically the same. Forms will be scanned and recognition will be performed on all but the "How do you feel? Please write a paragraph," questions, which will be keyed. Gallup requires that anything keyed must be verified at 10% and has required Datacap to do the same.Once recognition and verification are performed, the files become ready for export. At that point, they are converted to an ASCII file and sent to tabulation spec writers. This department organizes the data into one file. Krupicka gave the example of a car survey in which responses to the question "What brand of car do you own?" would be grouped into a document that shows X% own Fords, Y% own Dodge, etc.The electronic report is then sent to an analyst who adds comments and generates the final report.For the big picture, the Datacap addition will not be visible

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