April 7, 2010 By Andy Opsahl
Most of us know what it's like to arrive at a government office for services, take a number and wait for a serviceperson to call us to their cubicle.
Marion County, Ind., citizens may be facing that experience less often at the Department of Health, thanks to a kiosk the county installed at the agency.
Before deploying the machine in November 2009, residents seeking uncertified copies of birth and death certificates had to make appointments with government staffers. Using the kiosk, they're able to search for the documents themselves and go straight to the cashier line to receive their copies, each costing 25 cents.
Julie Bishop, administrator of vital statistics for the county health department said citizens often use these uncertified documents for genealogy research. Certified birth and death certificates still must be purchased directly from a staffer. Bishop said county staffers were considering an application that would make purchasing certified death certificates possible from the kiosk. The agency will keep certified birth certificate purchases within the normal channels because of the risk of identity theft.
Bishop said the kiosk diverted roughly 5 percent of traffic away from the cubicles at her agency. However, she hopes to also deploy more kiosks with applications enabling immunization searches. She said the agency gets heavy traffic from parents requesting that information, and offering it though kiosks would eliminate numerous in-person appointments.
Bishop said she wasn't sure when the county would purchase more kiosks. She said she hoped an immunization search would be available on the existing kiosk by the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.
Installing a kiosk is just one option. Some counties across the country offer uncertified birth certificates online.