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Large volumes of data are usually generated in most institutions of learning today. Locating files among tons of others can thus be tedious and time-consuming process for administrative as well as academic staff of such institutions. The aim of this paper is to develop and deploy an Electronic File Tracking System (EFTS) to improve productivity amongst Core administrative personnel. The EFTS developed in this paper is a web application that is able to manage the creation, and movement of files from desk to desk of personnel who work on them. The system was developed with open source software after establishing vital functional and non-functional requirements and detailed workflows. Files, such as, reports, decisions, requests, reminders can be processed and tracked by the system in real-time. Furthermore, the system helps in online tracking and provides location information. The system is interactive and usable and able to improve file management and productivity in University administrative operations. Keywords: File tracking, open source software and workflows.
The chapter review how file tracking system is being viewed by different authors.
It is obvious that nowadays web applications have an extraordinary rising worldwide. Even desktop applications and mobile applications has evolved in different directions. On personal computers, the most popular application for accessing any content and any applications on the web, is the web browser. In mobile devices, the majority of web content is consumed via custom built native web apps. The world wide web has evolved from a document sharing systems to a massively popular general purpose applications or in the other words the most powerful information distribution environment in the history of humankind.
In comparing web application with desktop application you can see a lot of differences. Desktop applications have many draw backs. They have to be downloaded and installed before their use, have to be developed for multiple platforms, cannot be accessed online, maintenance or administration its harder, requires more work and have more cost other than the web applications which requires less development, no need to be installed or manually upgraded, supported in multiple platforms, are cost effective and can be deployed and accessed instantly worldwide with no middlemen or distributors. Even when we speak about security issues, a web application is the one who stays in top.
When both of the applications, web and desktop, are in a computer with access to the internet, the danger for both its kind of same. However, when the desktop applications are in self-storage, they are much more exposed than the web applications in data storage.
Information and Data Exchange Advanced System is an advanced file information system developed by the National Informatics Centre in asaba , Nigeria . It was built on Free and Open Source Software. It is a web based application for file tracking system which records details of the files that come into a government office (ex: petitions which are received from citizens). Officers can use the web interface to record or query information of the petitions or files within their offices using Internet or the government’s own State Wide Area Network. Citizens and officers alike can obtain online information about the movement of files. It is currently used in the many offices of Ministers and Administrative Departments in the Asaba Government Secretariat. This system has also been implemented in the Office of the
Transport Commissioner, Office of the Director of Technical Education, Legislative Assembly and the Obosi State Planning Board.
As it is understood, the system is very powerful in managing petitions and it is widely implemented in Nigeria’s Government Offices. It contains only a powerful search engine which helps finding and tracking petitions or other files you sent to a specific office of government. While in the other hand it has a management system that lets responsible persons manage those files.
Comparing with File Tracking System, this is one of the projects that have some similar functions with it, or better to say it’s a project that tracks files as this FTS does. However this is completely organized in a way to serve the government offices whereas FTS is organized to serve all paper-related offices, especially universities. This means that IDEAS is organized to work between citizens and government (outside-inside), whereas FTS is organized to work between the offices staff (inside).
In the IDEAS system, users will have the possibility only to search/track for any file that has been sent before in a standard way (sent as an a4 paper), whereas in FTS everything is done online, no need of any paper. Simply IDEAS system has been built to works such as e-posts tracking, you sent a request to specific office of government and you track the movement of your file.
2.2 FILE TRACKING SYSTEM IN BENUE , NIGERIA
Another system, which was implemented in Benue’s state Government and which was done by the Department of Personnel and Training of the same National Informatics Center in Nigeria , had some similar functions with FTS. It is a web application used inside government to create, send and track their files (receipts). It enables the users to maintain a consistent watch over the movement of various important files in the process of decision-making. It contains a single module for all the staff. The administrator (person responsible for receipts) was the one who created the file (receipt) and forwarded to dealing person to deal with it. The dealing person entered the module and went to the forwarded files section to see the file for further instruction. If the file was ok at all, the dealer was the one who closed the file(cannot be forwarded anymore). This web application was developed for a Forest Department of Benue, Nigeria .
Comparing with File Tracking System it has a lot of disadvantages. One of them is the security issue. In any possible hacking situation, all the files could have been manipulated because of only one module. Also having only a module can make managing harder.
A solution to those issues is the creation of multiple modules, independent from each other. Furthermore it is a simple web application that deals only with tracking of file. No other functions are implemented, whereas FTS system has an activity log also implemented in tracking of files.Another disadvantage of this project comparing to FTS is the programming language they used to make the application. They used ASP, which has a lot of limitation such as:
- It is only windows-based which means that works only with windows platforms
- You need to buy MS-SQL for database connection or other tools (ex: IIS) if needed
- Codes of ASP work slower
- Whereas the programming language used to build FTS , which in this case is PHP, distinctly has advantages on ASP, such as:
- Works on multiple platforms (such as: Windows, Unix and Linux, Solaris, etc)
- It works on multiple databases. Common one used by PHP is MYSQL which does not cost you anything.
- Codes work faster
2.3 RFID FILE TRACKING SYSTEMS
There are several software about File Tracking System using RFID Technology. However the one chosen to be explained is RFID FTS done by Infotronic System.Infotronic Systems is a company that has done a File Tracking System using RFID technologies. Their main idea was for making existing files more secure.
Each file, in file storage (room) receives a RFID file tag label, depending on the file type. The tag contained the name and other related information, including a unique file number. In the file storage door it is implemented an RFID security gate (sensor). So whenever someone takes a file from the file room and goes out with that file, an alert/alarm is generated and security guards interfere immediately.As it is understood, the system is very powerful for securing files but It cannot be said the same thing for arranging or searching files. This RFID system also has some costs of buying sensors, label tags, etc. Hence comparing with FTS, which has no cost at all, it kind of stays behind. One of the main reasons is that if a search of a file is required. Finding is easier with FTS because all the files are archived in a database and can be accessed online in any time while with physical search in file room is required and it cannot be accessed at anytime. About the security, RFID system has physical security guards while FTS have a virtual security guard which is powerful authentication check where no one who is not authenticated can enter the files archive deposit.As a conclusion both of these platforms play a similar role in archiving files however they differ from each other a lot, because one has to deal with physical interference while the other one has to deal with virtual interference.
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