Eric Descours - Expert in Standards and Solutions at Tessi Documents Services and Vice-President of the professional association eFutura
Four questions for Eric Descours, Expert in Standards and Solutions at Tessi Documents Services and Vice-President of the professional association eFutura. He is also involved with the work of AFNOR’s Standardization Commission CN171 on Accurate digitisation and the French Delegation to the ISO TC 171 Technical Advisory Committee.
Can you tell us about this draft standard for Accurate digitisation?
It is a draft AFNOR standard to define and specify what constitutes an Accurate digitisation service for paper documents. When a batch of paper documents is assigned to be digitised, a qualified Accurate digitisation service provider will comply with a specific standardised framework, which will make it possible to demonstrate to a third party that the digital image of the document is 100% faithful to the paper original. This standard relates to verifying the digitisation service, qualifying the provider, defining the standards to be adhered to, the qualitative and quantitative checks to be performed, and the deliverables to be produced. Therefore, in addition to the document and its accurate electronic copy, a certain number of other elements will be provided to prove its authenticity, the traceability and the portability of the supporting documents. Under these conditions we can demonstrate that the accurate copy is certified.
Does this mean that we will be able to do away with paper originals?
Indeed, that is the whole point. In some cases, which will be defined by regulatory and legal frameworks, paper flows could be eradicated. The legislator and the government will use this reference system to specify the scope of uses.
Will this standard be adopted soon?
Yes, work is in hand with the AFNOR Standardisation Commission that has adopted the fact that this has become a draft standard. It will soon be subject to a public enquiry. When that is finished, we will collect all the comments from the authorities, companies and individuals. The Commission will meet to take a certain number of the remarks into account and reject others, in order to draft an amended and approved text. The draft standard will then be promulgated, if all goes well, by the end of the year.
What is the next step?
Once this French standard has been adopted, we will then move it up to the international level of ISO, the International Standards Organisation, so that there are no discrepancies between different countries regarding how to proceed: a good copy in one country is a poor copy in another. The French delegation from AFNOR is actually one of the biggest contributors to ISO. The ISO international standard will be adopted within the next two to three years, as was the case for the 2009 standard for electronic archiving systems – NF Z42-013, which was promulgated as the international standard ISO 14641. It is the latter that now serves as the benchmark for obtaining the NF461 mark that certifies the Tessi platform.