Customer Stories & Use Cases

Modern digital archive for the City of Dresden

| Julia Pedak

42 kilometers of files with 4,200 deeds, 123,000 maps and blueprints, 517,000 photos and 45,000 library holdings from 800 years: This treasure trove of civic memory can be found in the City of Dresden’s archive, the second-largest municipal archive in Germany. Yet not only relics of yesteryear are stored there. The city government also stores its records here, previously as printouts in paper folders. This has come to an end now: "In the new administrative center, there will be no more file cabinets," announced Mayor Dirk Hilbert at the recent opening of the first digital municipal archive in Saxony.

Dresden

Submitting paperless requests and getting notifications electronically: Dresden’s residents are becoming more and more accustomed to the digital platform. For more than 20 years, the city government has been fully equipped with hardware and software. Employees stopped using paper for correspondence long ago and rely today on digital workflows. By 2025, all offices will work with electronic files and notices. What stood in the way in the past was the city’s paper archive. How should digital documents in their original form be stored? The printouts are considered a copy. You can barely read ten-year-old CDs or floppy disks today. Dresden was looking for a digital solution for archiving – and found it with Doxis4 and SER.

Digital city government

The last obstacle on the path to digital management has now been removed: The Dresden city archives have been digital since May. This makes Dresden the first municipality in the state of Saxony to comply with the German legal requirement to digitize. Working with SER, the city’s IT services and archive teams got the project rolling. "About half of the municipal offices now produce electronic documents," says city archive director Thomas Kübler. This can include software-generated decisions about resident requests, maps, photos, audio recordings of meetings, or even SMS messages used by an official to provide important instructions. All this is archived by the city with the Doxis4-based archive solution DiPs.kommunal. Consequently, Dresden inot only fulfills its legal requirements but also provides its residents with state-of-the-art service: Decisions are made digitally much faster, paper stacks disappear and, last but not least, working and archiving digitally helps the environment – and city coffers.

At the opening ceremony, Mayor Hilbert underscored why digitization is a high priority for Dresden: "Without the end-to-end digitization of our processes, we could not provide residents the versatile offerings they expect. And for our employees, digitization is a step into new, modern working worlds. In the new administrative center, for example, there will be no more filing cabinets. Digital management opens up completely new possibilities for us."

Public archive for residents

Electronic files, audio recordings, blueprints and other digital evidence of current history have to be retained electronically by the city and made available publicly. For this purpose, Dresden is providing its residents with free access to the new online city archive, where they can run a full-text search for documents conveniently from home. The wide range of search options is one reason why the state capital relies on the SER solution. However, the issue of security also plays a major role: data protection, copyright, protection periods, as well as archival-legal guidelines must not be violated. Only after all of these points have been reviewed does the city provide documents online for the public. From document creation to archiving, every step is logged completely, and a data copy is stored as backup in another confidential archive. Dresden is planning on 1.5 terabytes of data space per year for the growing volume of data – and the Doxis4-based archive will grow seamlessly with these needs.

Long-term archive based on international standards

At the opening, the Dresden City Archives presented the holdings of city council meetings with digital audio recordings of the period from October 16, 1989 to October 3, 1990. Based on the original recordings of town hall discussions, press conferences and city council meetings, users can listen in on the historic moments – and continue to do so over the next 100 years. After all, retroactively digitized archive materials such as floppy disks, videos or audio tapes are now backed up in long-term WAVE, RF64 and MPEG-4 formats. For files, PDF/A is used. The archiving solution complies thereby with the national and international standards for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), which the SER solution also complies with.

Cross-municipality digital memory

After Mannheim and Munich, Dresden, together with Cologne, is the third major city in the German Federal Republic to have such an archive up and running. SER is already a project partner of the city of Cologne, which together with the LWL in Munster, provides long-term archiving for all municipalities in the state of NRW. This type of comprehensive solution can now also be found in Saxony: "We have developed this system so that it can also be used by other municipalities in Saxony," states Dresden’s Digital Mayor Peter Lames.

Public administrationElectronic recordsElectronic archivingCustomerDresden

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