The Scalable Distributed Capture Solution (SDCS)
Whether you call it image capture, digitization or simply going paperless, the advantages of reducing the amount of paper in an agency's business processes are tremendous. Real time search capabilities, reduced physical storage and mailing costs, far stronger document protection, regulatory compliance and—most important—streamlined business processes and superior citizen service are all driving agencies to consider converting their paper forms and records to their digital equivalents.
While the advantages of digitization are clear, significant challenges must first be overcome. Can a single capture solution accommodate the mind numbing volume of images processed by typical federal agencies? Can it easily scale to these service levels? Will this massive volume impact the system's availability? Can it recognize virtually any number form-type? What about security? And how can a single system support an agency when its document storage and digital processing requirements are at locations scattered around the globe? These are the very challenges a Synteras customer faced as it took on the task of creating a web-based, paperless processing system for the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
The Synteras Solution-The Scalable Distributed Capture Solution (SDCS)
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
As the nation's record keeper, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) serves America by safeguarding and preserving all federal records. The Veteran's Benefits Administration is working with NARA and Synteras on a large scale digital conversion solution that will form the foundation for converting the billions of veteran benefit paper claim forms housed at its 57 Remote Offices (ROs) nationwide. An estimated 33 million images a month will be scanned. As Prime Contractor at NARA, Synteras is responsible for architecting the distributed scanning and image capture solution. Called the Scalable Distributed Capture Solution (SDCS), it is fully compliant with the Veterans Benefits Management System's (VBMS) requirements for open systems, security, availability, scalability and business workflow.
Scalable Distributed Capture Solution (SDCS) Batches of documents follow pre-defined capture workflows entering the system via the scan module from remote locations. Images and metadata are then routed to NARA where resource intensive processes such as Optical Character Recognition and Data Extraction are performed. Then, the images and metadata are securely sent to the enterprise document repository system via the WAN. System architecture defines rack configurations that can be replicated to create multiple site environments to meet required document volumes.
Any type form. Any type content. At the center of the SDCS is its intelligent image capture and exchange application. Configurable to recognize any type form, it can capture content and metadata in any specified form field. Images and metadata are then exported to the Veterans Benefits Management System's (VBMS) enterprise document repository system across the WAN via a Synteras developed export script. The system is architected to export from multiple sites, eliminating the need for all data to be released from a single central site into VBMS.
High availability. Although the SDCS's capture and exchange technology is a single application, it consists of several individual modules that can run on a combination of separate servers and workstations that scale to accommodate system capacity and availability requirements. System capacity can be increased seamlessly by adding additional servers and instances of each module as page volume increases. All critical systems and components—including its web services interface—are redundant to ensure availability. If a server or service fails, our solution's automatic batch recovery feature restores batch information to the last known "good" state.
Limitless scalability. Multi-tiered architecture allows each component of the environment to be segmented into working tiers. Each tier can be independently scaled up by adding additional equipment (CPUs, disks, etc.) to individual servers (vertical scalability) or adding more servers to each tier (horizontal scalability). Horizontal scalability distributes the workload across multiple servers enabling the system to handle more images. Replication creates a multi-tier design for the SDCS so that it appears as one environment. The SDCS is made up of one or more clusters that manage and control multiple remote sites. And these clusters are connected in such a way to enable Load Balancing, Automatic Failover and Disaster Recovery/Continuity of Operations (COOP). The workload can be distributed across all systems that are part of the solution—regardless of the location.
Maximum flexibility. The system provides a thin client scan portal interface that seamlessly integrates with 3rd party multi-function devices, network scanners and desktop scanners. This gives the VA the flexibility to implement capture sites to meet any document capture requirement anywhere in the world.
Multiple-level security. Kofax Capture utilizes multiple layers of security (such as authentication and encryption) to ensure that content is adequately protected and only designated users can access/process authorized batches and modules. An Active Directory Group is created for all Kofax Capture users. Anytime sensitive authentication information is required to be stored in a local configuration file on any server that file is encrypted using the FIPS 140-2 encryption standard.
Benefits to the Veteran's Benefits Administration
The VA now has an expandable, redundant and secure document scanning, capture and imaging solution that combines a business transformation strategy with a modern web-based solution to support paperless processing and the electronic management of veteran medical claims from submission to payment. It can process any document type, at any document volume level from any physical location worldwide. Business processes are simplified and streamlined as images and metadata are passed to various VA back office line-of-business applications. Preparing documents for scanning, such as unfolding, removing of staples and paper clips, sorting by size, insertion of separator sheets (etc.) now can be standardized for further process optimization. A dashboard provides relevant information about a Veteran's claim enabling faster and more accurate processing of claims. Most important, the VA is better able to support its mission serving America's veterans and their families by dramatically shortening the time it takes to reach a resolution on their benefit claims.