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  • For the Record: Maintaining your records, analog or digital

    Whether it’s digital or analog, structured or unstructured, electronic records should be managed with the same dedication as paper records. 

    Electronic records contain machine-readable information in either digital or analog formats.  

    Digital formats encode information using binary code (0’s and 1’s) while analog formats operate through manipulation of physical properties (e.g. the orientation of iron crystals in magnetic tape).  
    For the Record
    Digital and analog data is often divided into two categories: structured and unstructured.
    Structured content is data organized in a prescribed, repetitive format such as a computer database.  

    Unstructured records, such as Word documents or PowerPoint presentations, have no prescribed format and are limited only by the capabilities of the software.  Unstructured records typically reside on servers with minimal organization such as the County’s X: and U: drives.  It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of an organization’s electronic records is unstructured text data.   

    Document & Micrographics Management (DMM) can help departments manage their electronic records in order to comply with record retention schedules.  DMM works closely with the Arizona State Library (ASL) to ensure County electronic record programs comply with State requirements.  

    One key principle is recognizing that State approved retention schedules apply equally to electronic and paper records.  Each month DMM submits to ASL a Certificate of Records Destruction documenting records destroyed in the previous 30 days.  

    The form is located here.

    The column titled Format, in the link above, asks for the format of the records to be destroyed (paper, digital, or microfilm).  Until recently, the majority of certificates recorded only the disposition of paper records.  

    Over the next few months, DMM will be contacting County departments to ensure destruction of electronic records in accordance with approved retention schedules.  

    This step is increasingly important as the volume of electronic records continues to rise.  It bears repeating that content, not format, defines a record.

    We look forward to working with you on this important initiative.  Please feel free to direct any questions or comments to Eric Flohr, Records Division Manager, at (520) 351-8466 or eric.flohr@pima.gov.                

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