County may use kiosks to dispense documents

Caption: The kiosk in the lobby of the Dearborn Federal Credit Union is more sophisticated than an automated teller machine and dispenses detailed information about banking services and accounts.

By Gary Hoffman / The Detroit News
Consumers will soon be able to get everything from official Wayne County certificates to detailed bank account information from interactive kiosks.

Wayne County is preparing to bid out a pilot project that would get a variety of official records from interactive kiosks, and Dearborn Federal Credit Union has experimented with a kiosk in its main office lobby.

"The early indications are that it is very popular," said Thomas Moylan, vice-president for marketing at Dearborn Federal. "It provides more detailed information about our banking services and the customers' accounts than you could get from an automated teller machine."

Wayne County Clerk Teola Hunter said the county hopes to have kiosks taking marriage applications and dispensing official documents Downriver and in western Wayne County in September.

"We have been looking into the kiosk for two and a half years," she said. "Many of the kiosks now in use are informational. We wanted one that is transactional."

Most certificates, including marriage records and death certificates, would be available from the kiosks, she said. Birth certificates require special care, since they must appear on special copy-resistant paper.

Interactive media companies attribute the explosion of kiosks to lower costs and improved performance of the personal computers at their core. Dick Cavagnol, president of Technology Applications Group in Troy, said higher-speed data transmission has also made them more useful.

"I also think that a big reason is that people are becoming comfortable with computers," he said. Certificates printed out at the kiosk will look as official as those in the county's files, he said.

OmniMedia Group in Ann Arbor has developed kiosks for auto and trade shows and major corporations that have keyboards and scanners. Customers can input information about themselves with the keyboard or simply by placing a business card on the scanner. The company can then contact the individual or send out information.

Dearborn Federal Credit Union has packed the interactive display with their customer's advertisements for used cars and boats, at no charge. Eventually, Moylan said, the kiosks will be placed near Dearborn Federal automated teller machines.

Cavagnol said the next step would be to have a real, live teller available on-line. As more "transactional" kiosks are deployed, security controls such as PIN numbers, credit card readers, and fingerprint scanners could be deployed.