It's easy to think that implementing virtual services will be a complex and lengthy process and will ultimately cost your municipality more money. However, municipalities across the country are, and have been, utilizing virtual systems to their benefit. Centennial, Colorado for years has enjoyed streamlined processes and reduced costs through SAFEbuilt’s virtual service delivery system for permits, plan review, and inspections. In Troy, Michigan, adoption of similar SAFEbuilt virtual solutions has helped save the city $1 million in its first year of service. It may be time to reconsider your options before November.
For many mayors and elected officials across the United States, this November is election season. And when that time comes, how communities have fared during this pandemic will likely impact voting results.
Right now, you're probably focused on the daily COVID-19 numbers, regional trends, the health and safety of the people and communities in your charge, and how to best keep your municipality moving forward. You're listening to staff, peers, and the experts to help you make smart decisions within the many departments you oversee.
Your building department is likely one of your largest areas of concern and interacts with your constituents and business partners on a daily basis. In many locations throughout the country, municipal building departments are struggling with an overwhelming backlog of building permits and applications and are unsure how to correct course.
Many municipalities are only issuing a fraction of the building permits they were before the pandemic hit, even as demands remain high. That leads to builders and residents alike–already frustrated with an hours-long in-person process–desperately navigating an even longer process over emails or overflowing drop boxes. And that's if they are one of the lucky few to receive a timely, relevant response. It adds up to a loss in revenues and an increase in customer dissatisfaction. The response from many city halls, understandably so, is not to expect the same level of service received before COVID-19.
However, there are solutions available to help your community avoid the frustration, staff reductions, funding shortages, and the potential increase in crime as a result of deteriorating economic conditions presented by the constraints of the pandemic.
When you work with the experts at SAFEbuilt, you will be able to create a system that goes beyond simply "putting it online" and hoping for the best. You will be able to deliver your existing permitting services virtually, and at a faster rate than using emails can provide. Also, there are a few readily available examples of how your municipality's permitting process can be done virtually:
- Web forms: Leverage your website. Use quick form creation tools like JotForm, iAuditor, Smartsheet, and others to quickly and inexpensively create online forms to capture data and kick-start processes.
- File transfer: Need to share files with your team or constituents? File-sharing services like Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive allow you to exchange files like using a shared network drive. You can email links and set alerts to keep track of activity.
- Automation: Work smarter not harder with automation platforms like Power Automate, Zapier, and io. Cloud-based automation allows you to create notifications, flows, automatic updates and data moves between your online tools. Most are free to try.
- Workflow systems: If you aren’t using an online platform already, consider one of our building department workflow products CommunityCore or Gov-Easy, to take your process fully electronic.
SAFEbuilt and our family of brands are here to help. Our community technology experts are available to answer your questions and share our experience with any of these technologies.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss solutions for the immediate challenges you face.
Joseph G. DeRosa
Executive Director of Business Continuity of Operations,
Chief Revenue Officer
SAFEbuilt is a community development services company. We provide comprehensive building department, private provider, and other professional services with the goal of helping our customers build better, safer communities.