Innovative distributed capture of paper documents with eScan

eScan is a distributed capture solution that can be used by small remote centres to conduct their own scanning or by large regional centres to perform bulk scanning of paper documents from many centres.

The web-distributable scanning client has accurately captured 25 million paper documents since 2016 (4.3 million in 2023).

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    Distributed scanning with eScan

    eScan is a distributed capture solution that provides users with scanning, reconciliation, error rectification and secure transmission of scanned image batches to data capture software such as TeleForm for further processing. It is deployed through a browser for simple installation on any modern Windows PC.

    The system is compatible with widely available scanning hardware from manufacturers such as Fujitsu, Kodak, and Canon. This allows users to use a pen or pencil and enables them to locally source hardware, without the need to purchase or distribute expensive custom hardware such as OMR scanners.

    The eScan App:

    • Captures various paper documents e.g., exam answer papers.
    • Automatically deploys and enforces scan configurations to minimise setup time and user training.
    • Validates image quality through a combination of page identifying marks and brightness scales while checking page sizes, readability, and paper type in real-time as the images are scanned.
    • Queues images for background upload, making the system tolerant of sub-optimal internet connectivity.
    • Guarantees the image quality before being uploaded for verification.
    • Identifies configuration issues and quality assurance problems at the earliest possible stage.
    • Allows sites to scan documents at full speed without connectivity issues hindering activity.
    • Provides quick and efficient upload to central processing systems with efficient image compression.


    Automated image recognition and processing of paper documents

    eScan will capture data from any structured paper document including your existing form designs. However, we recommend re-designing your form template(s) to include the following features to improve form recognition and verification later in the process:

    • Optical character recognition (OCR) technology to capture machine-printed text.
    • Optical mark recognition (OMR) technology to read multi-choice fields.
    • Intelligent character recognition (ICR) technology to read short, hand-print written responses, such as for candidate numbers on exam answer sheets.
    • Cornerstones for automatic page rotation, distortion correction and response area triangulation.
    • Brightness bars for automatic scanner brightness\contrast setting and quality validation.
    • Colour-coded side-bleeding for easy paper identification.
    • 2D identification barcodes for automatic page recognition.
    • Printer barcodes to support paper distribution.
    • QR codes for page identification.
    • Continuation sheet numbering to aid matching and reconciliation.

    Quality assurance monitoring to mitigate risk

    During the distributed scanning phase, eScan performs real-time image processing and enhancement tests to resolve issues quickly and improve document capture and the quality of scanned images, including:

    • Confirm the page size and resolution for data extraction.
    • Validate the image is black and white to guarantee the best use of available bandwidth.
    • Apply custom rules to batches.
    • Remove any blank pages.
    • Review the presence and readability of barcodes.
    • Check orientation and rotate if necessary.
    • Confirm the presence of cornerstones.
    • Review the variable brightness bar for expected thresholds to confirm scanner brightness settings.
    • Check the batch for duplicate pages.
    • Confirm no partial forms with missing pages are present.

    Fast and effective exception handling

    In any high-volume process, there is a risk of irregularities which can lead to errors if not properly detected and handled. Many common issues are picked up during the scanning phase with users alerted immediately and reducing the need to re-scan later in the day.

    eScan uses a combination of automation and human intervention to identify and resolve exceptions. These include:

    • Traffic light system to highlight incomplete scans and other warnings\errors to users. Batches containing errors are not uploaded until all missing pages or ordering issues are resolved.
    • Intuitive dashboard to identify missing scans. A percentage-complete indicator highlights sessions and components with outstanding items to ensure you release candidate results promptly. The interface allows you to drill down easily and identify the missing items.
    • A verification queue displaying unmatched scans awaiting verification by user/priority.
    • Returning unmatched scans to the dashboard for manual matching or rescanning (if a script does not meet quality thresholds) if necessary.
    • A reconciliation process to automatically highlight mismatched items as duplicate warnings when the correct items are processed.

    Scanned images are not released for marking until the batch is complete. This means all mismatched items are reconciled before being released for further processing.

    Improve efficiency with batch scanning

    eScan allows users to scan paper forms in a single batch, improving efficiency when dealing with high throughput.

    Additionally, users can scan pages continuously while a background process uploads the images as they are ready. This is crucial as it allows the operators to utilise the scanners at their maximum throughput without being delayed by slow or intermittent internet connections.

    Once a batch has been scanned, individual images will appear on-screen. At this stage, the scanning operator will categorise the batch and submit it for verification.

    Monitor performance

    Intuitive dashboards highlight the current position for each scanning batch/session, allowing administrators to monitor system performance, download reports, and chase late actions.


    Distributed data verification with eVerify

    eVerify provides users in distributed locations with web-based verification of unrecognisable characters from scanned form responses.

    In a high-speed web interface, eVerify queues any discrepancies, duplicates, or unclear papers from a scanned batch for human verification.

    eVerify is the ideal solution for verification teams that are distributed across multiple locations and not connected to the network.

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    Distributed capture benefits

    Some of the benefits of distributed scanning with eScan include:

    No risk of obsolete hardware

    Users can select any installed image scanner from manufacturers such as Fujitsu, Kodak, and Canon, eliminating the need to purchase or distribute expensive hardware such as OMR scanners.

    Built-in quality control

    Validate image quality in real-time with automated checks to confirm barcode readability, page type/size, and presence of cornerstones.

    This allows users to identify configuration issues and quality problems at the earliest possible opportunity rather than hours later when they have scanned potentially thousands of images incorrectly.

    Tolerant of poor internet connectivity

    eScan allows distributed users to scan images at full speed and queue them for background upload in the event of poor connectivity.

    Simple installation

    Easy to install via a Click-Once installer with automatic deployment of scanning configurations to minimise setup time and user training.

    Long-term document management

    To reduce physical storage requirements, eScan provides secure storage (for a configurable period) of scanned documents and data with easy retrieval for future reference.

    Robust security standards

    eScan supports single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA) and synchronisation with user directories to protect sensitive information during both the scanning process and transmission of scanned batches to third-party systems for further processing.

    Integrate with third-party systems

    Export scanned images to third-party systems for archival and on-screen marking (e.g., MarkManager and Janison).



    Following an OJEU tender process, the British Council commissioned Civica as the prime contractor to deliver an on-screen marking (OSM) solution to mark up to 2.25 million ‘pen and paper’ IELTS tests each year.

    As part of the agreement, Civica appointed ePC as its sub-contractor for the script capture, processing and verification work.