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Rhenus secures contract for Duisburg project

Rhenus has secured the contract for an outstanding digitalisation project for the city of Duisburg.

Rhenus Docs to Data will digitalise eight kilometres of shelves containing the city’s archive materials during the next four years. This will enable Duisburg to take a further step towards reaching its goal of becoming a smart city: it will be possible to process approval procedures more quickly in future and citizens will be able to view files electronically.

Rhenus Docs to Data will digitalise about 300,000 files on behalf of the city of Duisburg by 2026. The enormous volume is explained by the fact that there are not only documents related to residential and business property, but also an unusually high number of industrial facilities that have all been documented in great detail. The digitalisation of the huge number of files in the city is therefore challenging and not only requires scanning skills, but a particularly keen understanding of logistics processes. The key issues here involve statutory retention periods, legal stipulations and an extensive security concept. Rhenus is able to contribute comprehensive expertise to the handling of the project thanks to having had more than 25 years of experience in document, information and process management.

The files, which are now to be digitalised, include building plans, floor plans, views and house cutaways, information about previous owners, documents related to conversion work, building applications, approval notices from public authorities and information from the land registry and from the architect. Some of these documents are very old and historically valuable. “Some of the files are even still sewn together with a Prussian thread binding. There are also loose sheets of paper and more than one million large-size drawings, which we’ll digitalise in a professional manner,” says Jörg Grundmann, the Head of Partner Management and Business Development at Rhenus Docs to Data, explaining the project. Various documents need to be treated first because of infestation by mould, before they can be digitalised in a proper condition.

The digitalisation project is an important milestone for the city of Duisburg on its way to becoming a smart city and it is a central element in its digital agenda. “Thanks to support from Rhenus, we’ll be able to create the basis for future-oriented administration procedures and make available better services for our citizens,” says Martin Murrack, the City Director and Head of the Digitalisation Department, explaining the situation. The mammoth project with a budget involving more than EUR 10 million will enable people to inspect documents more quickly, more simply and in greater detail. Citizens of Duisburg will then be able to request the files electronically. Files that are worthy of preservation and are historically valuable will also be retained and stored in their analogue form, even after having been digitalised.