How New Forest National Park Authority Uses Autobahn DX to Archive 1 Million Documents and Make Them Fully Searchable

Digital archiving of documents has many benefits, such as preventing data loss, reducing operational costs, improving security, and enhancing compliance. It also supports the process of document auditing, because archived documents are audit-proof and cannot be lost or changed over time. As a result, it’s important that Legacy Council documents — such as planning applications, tree protection orders, and more — are digitized, archived, and fully searchable and accessible.

About Our Customer

The New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) is one of 15 national parks in the UK. According to its website, its goal is to “conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage,” as well as “promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public.” Additionally, the NFNPA provides a planning service for people who want to plan or build within the park boundaries. This is where the need for PDF archiving and document accessibility is mostly present.  Before choosing Autobahn, the NFNPA used to scan old paper records and put them on its website, and each scan was a separate TIFF file. As these documents are used by the public, there were problems with document accessibility and viewing. For example, each page of a document was viewed as a separate file, and the TIFF files weren’t easily accessible. NFNPA started using Autobahn to convert TIFF files to searchable PDFs and merge multiple documents into one. This solution not only reduced the time someone needed to view the files, but additionally, all the pages were in the same document, and PDFs were fully searchable.

Customer Challenge 1: Document Archiving

Historical archiving of tree preservation orders is very important for the NFNPA, as it has 2 million paper documents that need to be archived and digitally accessible. Not only does having physical documents increase the chance that things can get lost, but some of the documents are very old and were created in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and the paper quality can deteriorate over time.

When NFNPA started using Autobahn DX, the digitization process was already complete, but the result was many separate TIFF files, which were sometimes images of text pages or related buildings and landscapes.

Customer Challenge 2: Document Viewing

The NFNPA had an old system for planning applications that did a good job of converting TIFF files to PDF. However, at one point, the NFNPA had to shift to a new system, which was a downgrade when it came to the usability of documents.

As an example, in the old system, for a 50-page document, someone could view all the pages as one PDF, but in the new system, there were 50 separate documents — one for each page. With the new system, paper documents were scanned as TIFF files; however, TIFF files don’t open easily on mobile devices, and applicants were required to install third-party applications to view them.

As the NFNPA’s planning applications are used by hundreds of people, a lot of issues pertaining to document viewing and accessibility were reported.

Customer Challenge 3: Document Accessibility

New Forest is a government organization, and part of its responsibility is hitting document accessibility targets. This was challenging to achieve with the new system, as TIFF files (scans) aren’t easily accessible. Therefore, it was necessary to find a solution that would help create searchable PDF files out of TIFF scans.

The Solution for Document Archiving and Searchability

Autobahn DX is an economical and scalable document processing solution that helps the NFNPA digitize old records and make them searchable. The whole process is run automatically, and Autobahn smoothly processes a high volume of documents. More specifically, the NFNPA uses Autobahn DX for the following capabilities:

  1. TIFF-to-PDF conversion — New Forest uses Autobahn’s TIFF-to-PDF conversion to create PDF files out of scanned documents.
  2. OCR PDF — Next comes the OCR step. Using the Canon IRIS OCR engine, documents are fully searchable.
  3. Merge PDFs — As the final step, multiple documents are combined into a single file. These documents could have text and/or images or even CAD plans on the pages.
  4. Custom scripts — Our customer wanted to keep the same folder structure, where each folder contains PA reference numbers. Thanks to Autobahn’s ability to work with custom scripts, this was possible to adjust so the processed files came out with the same folder structure.

Archiving 30,000 Documents Per Day

The NFNPA has 2 million files to process, and 50 percent of them are TIFF files that need to be scanned and merged into fully searchable and accessible PDF files. With Autobahn DX, the NFNPA processes 30,000 files per day and plans to process 1 million documents in a month. Some of these files have dozens of pages, and there are also files with more than 100 pages each. The ability to combine multiple TIFF files into one searchable and accessible PDF document makes the planning application process quicker, as applicants need less time to view one document as opposed to dozens of documents, and they won’t encounter viewing problems on different devices. Finally, the NFNPA hit document accessibility goals and has safely archived valuable documents dating back 40-to-50 years.


Marija Trpkovic

Product Marketing Manager

Marija is a product marketing manager who likes to launch new products and features and target the right people with them. Outside of work, she likes spending time outdoors with her family and dogs.



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