ML-03-05 Scanning Documents

We all have important documents. These may include ID books, Passports, Work Permits, Drivers Licences, Proof of Residence, Contracts, Education Records and Certificates etc.

In our social circumstances, we may be at risk in terms of loss of documents through theft, fire, water damage, or simply by leaving them somewhere accidently.

If we want to prove who we are, open an account at a bank or a store, or apply for a course, we may need to send copies of our documents to someone else.

Your mobile device can be used as a scanner. This can be done in different ways:

  • The camera in your device can take a picture of the document and store it on your device. You can then share the photograph with others using Email, WhatsApp or other tools.
  • You can download a Scanner application from the Application Store. Scanner applications also use your camera, but they are better at processing documents with multiple pages, correcting page alignment etc.

Scanning applications

Look for the features that you want. To properly scan documents, particularly documents scanned with a hand held mobile device, the application should:

  • Find page boundaries and only photograph what is needed, even if you have the camera at a bit of an angle and the page is on a busy background.
  • Correct photo alignment to make it appear as a flat page
  • Ensure sharp focus to enable reading of text
  • Process multiple pages in a sequence
  • Allow reordering of pages if you scanned in wrong order
  • Allow adding of page scan to an existing scanned document if you left out a page

From an organisation perspective, a scanning application should:

  • Allow for meaningful naming of scanned document
  • Allow sharing of scanned document as a PDF (Portable Document Format) document so it can be opened and read by who you send it to.
  • Allow documents to be stored in a structured way on your mobile device so you can search for and identify a document to easily resend it, or send it to someone else as needed.

In the figure above you can see a list of previously scanned documents, with names specified for easy identification. Opening one of the document will display the pages as scanned. These documents can be shared, annotated, deleted or edited by adding and organising scanned pages. Storing and Managing Documents and Files

Some applications only store local on your mobile device. If you lose your mobile device you will lose your records of your documents. To prevent this you can:

  • Use the “Share” capability to exchange the document with other applications. Email yourself a PDF copy of the document and keep this email on your email server (Gmail or other amil service)
  • Use Scanner applications that also store content on internet files stores or an application server.
  • Keep backups of your mobile device

Note that when sharing content to other applications will require internet access and result in cellular network data usage or Wi-Fi data usage.

It is recommended that storage of your important information should not only be on your mobile device, but also on an internet server. If on an internet server you can still get to your records if you are not able to use your phone for some reason. TurboScan is one of many examples of a scanning application. Find one that suits your needs in the application store.