Microfilm can be a long-term data storage solution, says Mark Wise, who works in document conversion, preservation and management. He is the president of Solon, Ohio-based Tameran Graphic Systems.

The company has helped thousands of organizations in more than 25 countries simplify and improve how their technical documents are published, distributed and archived. Tameran does document imaging and scanning, converts and archives documents and offers microfilm preservation services. It also sells the QuickScan ACS aperture card scanners and wide-format stackers, folders and other products. The firm has 40 years of experience in micrographics and document imaging.

Government Product News got Wise’s views on data storage trends.

GPN: what does Tameran do?

Mark Wise: We’ve been in the information and micrographics business for 40 years. We used to make systems for creating and publishing microfilm records. At one time, microfilm was a great media for distributing information, but except for a very few applications, that’s not happening any more. Digital is a better way to distribute the information. But what we still are involved with is helping organizations maintain long-term archives of vital records. Not every record, but records that are really important to the organization. These are records that are important to what they are doing, their mission. Examples include records for utilities and infrastructure construction information, because the infrastructure projects are going to be there for decades upon decades

GPN: Why is digital recordkeeping not suited for long-term data storage?

MW: Digital is great for quick distribution, but it’s not the safest way to store data and records and make sure you have absolute access to it. The same goes for government records. Can you imagine what society would be like if governments couldn’t produce the records that deal with titles to property, land records and real estate transactions?  Digital is very powerful. It’s very quick, it’s very convenient, but it is very susceptible to problems, including man-made problems. Digital is susceptible to hackers. Malfeasance or incompetence of employees can lead to lost data and records that are digitally stored. In addition, digital records need to be migrated over time, and if they are not properly migrated and properly stored, government agencies can have a problem.

GPN: Do you have any advice for government administrators? Should they hang onto their microfilm readers if they still have them?

MW: I wouldn’t get rid of the microfilm setup if a government agency still has one. I would also continue maintaining that microfilm equipment. Today, you can convert microfilm to a digital format when you need it by scanning, and that’s a very common technology.

It’s also important for government agencies to take their digital data and documents, information that was digitally created, and record the documents onto microfilm for long-term archiving. Service bureaus like Tameran Graphic Systems can handle the process for governments and other organizations. We have a guide, “Protecting Public Records in an Online Era,” that has tips on safeguard and archiving digital documents.

GPN: Thank you, Mark Wise.

This video outlines how microfilm is a good way to preserve and safeguard paper and digital documents. Microfilm has a lifecycle of more than 500 years.

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