"In Queens County, N.Y., the district attorney's office
was running out of storage space as fast as it was running out of
money to rent more. Of the 19,500 cubic feet of case records
storage space available to the office, only 775 cubic feet
remained. The reasons were many: an increase in the number of
prosecutions, an increase in the amount of paperwork associated
with the prosecutions and the reduced availability of off-premises
storage space in New York City's warehouses.
The finger-in-the-dike answer was to accelerate microfilming of
closed case records to gain maximal use of the dwindling space. The
office also rented temporary warehouse space at $25,000 per year,
using money it would rather have spent putting criminals in jail
than papers in a file. Clearly, a less expensive solution was
needed. Besides the cash outlay, managing a quarter-century's worth
of closed case records stashed at a half-dozen sites was
time-consuming and inefficient.
Many of New York City's agencies suffered from the same problem,
and they were all scrambling for affordable answers. Working with a
$100,000 funding allotment from the state government, the district
attorney's office was the first to find one. Together with custom
integrator ImageWork Technology Corp. in White Plains, N.Y., the
office tried a novel approach. It used Linux for something other
than running Apache Web servers."