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Multifunction device with fax function: Analogue devices cause high costs

Photo: Armin Weigel / dpa

Fax machines are the symbol of dusty bureaucracy: slow, analogue, technically antediluvian. Nevertheless, they are considered an insider tip for some citizens. If you want to make an appointment quickly or have an application approved, try this communication channel with the authorities. In Cologne, however, this will no longer work in the future: At the request of the digitization committee of the city council, the city administration will abolish fax machines.

However, the changeover is only progressing at a leisurely pace. As the city administration writes in a statement, city employees have been able to access electronic solutions to receive faxes directly on their computers for ten years. Nevertheless, according to SPIEGEL information, several hundred fax machines are still in use, in which the letters are printed on paper.

High costs for paper, electricity and toner

When re-equipping buildings, fax machines are to be dispensed with from next year. The city administration does not want to ban the last analogue devices from official offices until 2028. Where necessary, the devices are to be replaced by digital software solutions, the Green parliamentary group in the Cologne city council announced on Monday. A large majority had supported the motion. The Volt faction had referred to six-figure costs that are incurred every year for purchase, paper, electricity and toner.

According to current plans, citizens will still be able to send faxes to the administration in 2029. On the one hand, the city administration has 646 multifunctional devices in use, which are used as printers, scanners and, incidentally, as faxes. On the other hand, faxes are displayed directly in the e-mail program in more and more departments.

However, the fax could lose its status as an insider tip in the course of the changeover. Most recently, the broadcaster RBB reported that faxes were answered in a few days at the Berlin immigration office, while online forms were sometimes processed after months. If, on the other hand, all citizens' submissions end up on a common digital platform, such tricks will probably no longer work.