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Siemens to digitise vital events records for UK

Raja Simhan T.E.

Chennai , Jan. 24

ABOUT 250 million birth, death and marriage records held by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), UK, are to be data captured out of Chennai. The city centre of Siemens Business Services (SBS) would help its parent to scan, digitise and index the records from the year 1837 to the present day, according to a company official.

The project is due to begin shortly and is likely to involve about 800 employees, Mr Naveen Mohan of Siemens BPO Services Pvt Ltd, said in an e-mail communication to Business Line. The three-year project called Digitisation of Vital Events is part of the strategy to modernise UK's civil registration. "The contract was won by SBS UK. We do not know the total value of the contract," he said.

The ONS, the Government department that provides statistical and registration services, is a "historic" project for SBS. There will be no redundancies as a result of this work being done in Chennai. In fact, some 30 new jobs will be created in the UK. The original paper certificates will not be removed from ONS-controlled locations and Siemens will not retain any data. All digitised records will be returned to the ONS and kept in a secure central repository, he said.

The entire process goes like this. The microfilm archive of the paper records dating back to 1837 is held at the ONS in Southport, Merseyside. The microfilm cassettes will be taken to the Siemens Document Scanning Centre in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. All 80,000 microfilms will be scanned and encrypted and the images transmitted securely to the Siemens Business Process Operation Centre in India for data capture.

High targets for completeness, accuracy and quality must be met and this will be managed from the UK-based Centre of Excellence co-located at the ONS in Southport. When the records meet the stringent quality standards the completed digitised records and images will then be returned to ONS. It is planned that all certificates will be digitised by 2008, according to information available in SBS Web site.

The computerised record of all vital events will enable a more efficient service for people buying certificates. This project will deliver significant efficiencies in the production of certificates, moving from a labour intensive manual process to a streamlined automated process. The ONS received more than two million applications for certificates last year, the Web site says.

According to Mr Mohan, Siemens has two facilities in Chennai - one in Valsaravakkam and the one in Ascendas Tidel Park. Chennai centre is part of Siemens BPO services, which is owned by Siemens India. Siemens BPO has offices in Chennai and Bangalore. It is a delivery centre for Siemens US and SBS UK.

Currently, about 400 people are working in Chennai for SBS - 150 people work for National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and the rest for other third party customers. The company is working successfully on the NSI project for more than one year now. "No UK jobs were lost as a result of the contract to transfer specific administrative tasks to Siemens in India. This work is an important part of the growth plans at NS&I," he said.

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