Often, town governments protect more important and sensitive information than their residents know. They retain everything from data about who owns homes or businesses properties and the names of kids and parents participating in local school districts to vital historical details that simply don't exist elsewhere. For that reason, it's important for municipal governments to have a backup.

Many have already undertaken the process of at least beginning to rely on paperless forms for citizens to do data entry, or of scanning decades- or centuries-old documents into systems that allow the files to be accessed on-demand from just about anywhere. That includes Belleville and Hastings County in Ontario, Canada, where vital records were long kept in storage at a local library, according to the Belleville Intelligencer.

A big undertaking
So far, the municipal government has put more than 9,200 of those files online in recent years, but the community has millions more files – from photos to documents – that remain unscanned, the report said. A small army of volunteers scan many files on-demand, but are continually working to get through the archives whenever they can, so that local residents can access information whenever needed.

Preserving history
In Fall River, Massachusetts, local efforts to preserve records kept on file at the historical Oak Grove Cemetery and North Burial Ground are well underway, according to the Fall River Herald News. Fall River Director of Community Maintenance John Perry said the city is now scanning those files into a document management system that allows anyone to find information about who is buried at the cemeteries, with everything from basic plot information to their obituaries and even pictures of their graves.

The digitization process for the cemeteries began in 2016 and when it's completed it will likely carry a total cost of about $110,000, with minimal ongoing system maintenance costs, and it should be ready for public use by summer 2019, the report said.

When municipal governments have massive collections of valuable historical documents, it's vital to get them scanned and stored in the cloud so that they can be protected in some form – and viewed on an ongoing basis.