DC Thomson Family History (DCTFH) is a British-owned world leader in online genealogy with an unrivalled record of online innovation in the field of family history. With 18 million registered users across its family of websites, DCTFH hosts over 1.8 billion genealogical records across these brands, including household names like Findmypast and Genes Reunited.
Being successful in their bid to transcribe the 1939 UK census, DCTFH were looking for a partner who would complete the data capture. Due to the nature of the data, it could not leave the European Union – and yet DCTFH needed to find the most cost-effective solution (which is often to have data captured offshore).
The census document in itself was unusual; the effects of World War Two meant that it was completed ahead of schedule in 1939 – instead of 1941. It was also used as an active document, with name changes and address details being amended over time. This presented a number of challenges. In 1939, the style of writing was unlike it is today; letters had a completely different formation 77 years ago and several different handwriting styles were used, such as cursive and copperplate.
In addition to this, there was the quality of the document to consider. The documents had undergone years of wear and tear; the ink had bled and smudged, pages had torn and in some cases been fixed with sticky tape – even before the pages were scanned to images, the document was difficult to read.
Usually a census is digitised after 100 years because at this point data protection rights become less of an issue; however, this data set is not technically classed as a census and therefore was being digitised before the 100 years had passed. The sensitive nature of the records meant a solution had to be implemented that allowed secure access from any location.
DDC Outsourcing Solutions (DDC OS) provided a data capture platform for use in this project; all documents were scanned to images and then ingested to a DDC OS system hosted on DCTFH’s server.
Although located in the UK, authorised users could access the system for both onshore and offshore locations. Each agent could only ever see one image, which allowed for zero data aggregation, adding an extra level of security to the project.
The team was recruited specifically for the project and training designed to ensure people understood letter formation and style from the 1930’s. This allowed them to effectively read the documents and to interpret the data capture rules appropriately. Some fields had several additions and changes during the census live period; for these fields, the rules of the capture order had to be deciphered and expanded.
Our offshore team in the Philippines is based across two sites, Manila and Leyte, both of these being ISO 27001 accredited. A 3 shift system was operated across both sites and the agents connected to the DDC capture platform via a secure RDP connection, meaning that the data never left the UK. As with the UK, each agent could only ever see one image, which allowed for zero data aggregation.
This model allowed DCTFH to benefit from the cost savings made offshore whilst benefiting from the comfort and security of onshore data storage.
At DDC OS we utilised our multiple locations to offer safe and secure solution that met DCTFH’s compliance requirements. Years of experience and expertise in data capture enabled DDC Outsourcing Solutions to handle the challenges in an efficient and effective manner.
DDC Outsourcing Solutions` model allowed DCTFH to benefit from the cost savings made offshore whilst benefiting from the comfort and security of onshore data storage.
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