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Archiving e-mail in the Sunshine State

Florida's tough laws on public access to information have led the City of Daytona Beach to adopt a new e-mail archiving system. The solution will help the city comply with the Florida Sunshine Law by enabling staff to quickly research e-mail record requests from the public.

"Florida has one of the nation's toughest laws on public access to information," says Stephen Ralston, the city's IS manager. "The Florida Sunshine Law requires that cities permanently keep all e-mails sent and received by public employees, creating an enormous number of records."

Daytona Beach has implemented MailStore from Information Management Research (IMR), which will be used with its Alchemy document management system, also from IMR.

The Florida Sunshine Law also mandates that cities keep permits and licensing records for three years. Before implementing the Alchemy document management system, Daytona Beach had to purge file cabinets manually, which would take two months of staff time.

Ralston says, "When we implemented Alchemy, we had to convert 15 four-drawer cabinets full of documents, which translated to 72 gigabytes of data. And this was for one department alone! From a labor perspective, it used to take city workers 10 to 15 minutes to retrieve each document, but now the same document can be accessed within minutes." Also, documents are easier to find, and the city no longer has to worry about spending money to fireproof file cabinets or find off-site storage.

The city is using Alchemy and MailStore in five departments, with plans to expand to several others. Using Windows 2003 and three Microsoft Exchange servers, the city can now archive e-mails for 850 users. After the city starts recording commission meetings, officials will use Alchemy to archive them. A benefit of the system is that different file types can be stored as attachments, but retrieved via one user interface, according to IMR.

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