Smarsh and NextRequest have entered a partnership that will enable public entities to more readily answer public records requests through a single, streamlined solution. The partnership comes as 100,000-plus federal, state and local governments manage a deluge of public records requests that only continues to grow. As these requests proliferate, agencies of all sizes are having to expend ever growing resources to meet the demand. This demand affects data retention of electronic communications including email, text messages, social media posts and instant messages.
NextRequest’s online portal provides a single request point for public records and streamlines management of responses to these requests as they come from journalists and the public at large. Smarsh’s Archiving Platform, meanwhile, enables automated retention of emails, text messages and other electronic communications, storing digital records in their native format. Archives within Smarsh are fully search enabled.
“These two products are highly complementary, and when used together create a truly innovative solution,” said Sam Kolbert-Hyle, a Smarsh senior vice president. “This partnership between Smarsh and NextRequest enables government officials to dramatically reduce the time needed to produce records by tightening and automating the process from capture to production – which simply hasn’t existed in the past.”
The partnership reflects the continued expansion of Smarsh in the public sector space, where its technology is already in use with agencies in 40 of the 50 states.
“There is growing need in the public sector to modernize its approach to the retention, oversight and production of electronic communications in response to open-records laws and litigation pressure,” explains Ken Anderson, vice president of marketing at Smarsh.
The tie-up between Smarsh and NextRequest aims to meet that need by providing a complete solution for agencies when it comes to records retention and compliance with public records availability laws. The combined solution will save resources for many organizations while increasing their responsiveness to requests from the public.
“The proliferation of smartphones and digital messaging has created greater urgency for public agencies to show responsiveness to public records requests,” said Tamara Manik-Perlman, CEO of NextRequest. “We are excited about this partnership of NextRequest and Smarsh because it provides such natural, technology-driven added value. Records teams and legal teams are now able to utilize robust features like message retention rules, review workflows and redaction that will make their lives significantly easier.”
Capabilities of the combined system include the capture digital messages, including social media posts, instant messages, texts and email. Data from business and personal mobile devices can be archived. Archived communications can be readily searched and reviewed in one place.
The system will also automatically send certain requesters to information available online when appropriate. The integrated Smarsh-NextRequest solution includes reporting tools and process automation for efficient, streamlined management of public records requests.
Smarsh’s Anderson adds that tools like the Smarsh-NextRequest solution can also help government agencies improve the speed and manner in which they serve their citizens.
“We’ve seen a number of examples of municipal services using social media to distribute real-time updates on situations that are impacting citizens – impacting traffic or service interruptions and maintenance, for instance,” Anderson explains. “We provide the retention piece, as well as metadata around these communications. This helps construct timelines and key player lists when investigations occur, for instance, as well as an immutable chain of custody record around these communications.”
To that end, Smarsh published a white paper that outlines how public safety agencies can create policies that allow for compliant use of SMS/text messaging. Anderson says demand for such solutions is spreading on a somewhat regional basis, with strong adoption in Florida, North Carolina, Washington and California.