Software speeds the job of applying metadata

Are you drowning in paper?  An Australian company, QCAT, believes the software it has developed for objective coding can help organisations that need to analyse and manage large archives of hard copy.

Objective coding is the process of applying descriptive metadata to scanned and native documents in litigation support and ediscovery.

QCAT was founded in 2010 by Simon Segal and Mark Harris, who have a 16 years cumulative experience working for various document management vendors. The company was formed to commercialise their solution to providing data entry operators with a more efficient way to code tens or hundreds of thousands of documents in a large investigation, inquiry or legal case.

The QCAT platform has been deployed nationally by the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC) to code information on scanned and native documents such as date created, author recipient, CC and link each image to the information in pre-defined objective fields.

ASIC is routinely required to objectively code large volumes of digitised images and prepare this data for investigators to review in its Ringtail document management system.

QCAT is also being used at Law Image and NuLegal, two Australian litigation support bureaus.

However QCAT believes its platform has much broader market beyond the legal sector, providing a means for business to unlock meaning hidden within an organisation's unstructured information and create powerful bibliographies and taxonomies.

QCATs Simon Segal believes OCR and automatic metadata extraction is not always able to handle the wide range of unstructured formats and document types that are encountered in a typical discovery or back-scanning project.

“In the legal sphere and with investigations there are many instances where a lot of paper needs to be considered and typically the market has focussed on capturing information from the document and there has not been a lot of focus on allowing operators to do objective coding effectively,” said Segal.

“We can take that paper and turn it into something that is searchable and manageable and unlock the information contained within.”

“People are moving to electronic document management but paper is a fact of life, it still exists. And in many cases electronic data will also be coded, so QCAT does not just ingest scanned paper, we will ingest electronic documents as well.

“The Litigation Support and eDiscovery software vendors have not addressed the problem of data entry because it is a secondary concern for them. We’ve taken a specific approach to a very niche problem and come up with an approach that improves efficiency and increases accuracy.”

The task of document review is the most costly and time consuming of the electronic discovery tasks and may comprise upwards of 60% of the overall cost of projects employing a fully manual document review approach.

There are two steps to this: objective coding applies descriptive metadata to a document; this is followed by subjective coding, which requires someone legally trained to determine what the document relates to in the case.

Objective coding is usually done from the document text or image, because the native metadata may be inaccurate. For example, a document written and signed by a partner might show the administrative assistant as the author in the metadata, because it was originally typed on the assistant’s computer.

The coding is undertaken manually by an operator viewing the scanned image on screen.

QCAT allows an operator to undertake the coding without using a mouse, eliminating the “hunt and peck” syndrome commonly found in data entry screens which slows and frustrates operators. The QCAT screen presents a consistent visual interface so the operator always knows where to look.

In comparison with other tools commonly used for objective coding in the legal industry, QCAT claims its approach provides 100% improvement on speed of processing and increased accuracy.

There are two tools in the QCAT platform, Isolator and Koder, each built with .NET technology and Microsoft SQL Server.

Koder is the data-entry system whereas Isolator is designed to organise loose pages of unstructured digitally imaged files into well-structured document catalogues, including parent-child hierarchies

The Ringtail and Relativity  platforms, used by various QCAT customers are the most popular in Australia, and also used by many of the top law firms in Australia and New Zealand.

Once objective coding has been completed on a document set, QCAT is able to export the data in the native file format able to be directly loaded into a Ringtail or Relativity database. It is also able to export in formats required by other review platforms or an EDRMS such as TRIM or SharePoint.

QCAT is available as an annual subscription software license or on usage based on how many documents are created using the tool.