Licenses and permits: Pivoting to online processing

engineer construction site manager dealing with blueprints and plans

August 10, 2020By Bob Benstead

Anyone requesting a building permit is familiar with the drill: Visit a city or county building, fill out paperwork, stand in line, file that paperwork .... and wait.

That process proved even more cumbersome – and even impossible – when government buildings shut down and sent staff home to work remotely. Today, we are seeing signs that permitting logjams are loosening, and delayed construction projects are resuming.

A recent Best Practices Guide: Ensuring Community Business Continuity in Times of Disruption in State and Local Governments we highlight the heavily regulated construction industry, and how some governments rapidly deployed online licensing and permitting technologies to serve builders amidst the pandemic.

One example cited is Frederick County, MD, which took a major and rapid leap from its former paper-driven permitting process when COVID19 shuttered its buildings. As Frederick County mobilized to transform its manual operations across functions, it brought its licensing and permitting functions along. Solving a short-term issue is proving to promise benefits throughout the process. The new system has streamlined and faster digital plan reviews, electronic plan check for enhanced compliance, and, at its core, provided better service to builders and industry that remains vital to the local economy.

Long-term, moving licensing and permitting to a contactless digital platform can provide capabilities that simplify and provide significant both residential and commercial development projects. It also can help agencies:

  • More quickly address code violations and schedule follow-up inspections
  • Collect fines
  • Optimize back-end operations by enabling employees to send invoices and process payments
  • Allow field workers to address CDR when working remotely
  • Set up “frictionless” self-service portals with minimal configuration
  • Deploy staff focus to more value-added tasks
  • ....and more

None of these adding employees or costs. Through cloud deployment, governments can create an environment that enables this level of extension and flexibility without additional investment in people or hardware. Put simply, agencies can add software, modules, and functionality to address emerging needs and norms as communities emerge from the current state of disruption. It also allows a consolidated, maximum security repository of accurate, real-time data that acts as a single source of truth to address any CDR issues and processes.

Perhaps at no time has it been more important for governments to ensure continuity of key services to keep public trust and peace of mind. For more information on the technology and tools to do so, check out the guide Ensuring Community Business Continuity in Times of Disruption in State and Local Governments

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