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Lack of Technology Impacts Efficiencies for Municipalities due to COVID-19
April 27, 2020

Proper technology is key to carrying out essential functions remotely

Code Official Survey 2020 A recent survey of building and fire department code enforcement officials by the International Code Council showed that “six in 10 survey respondents did not have the capability to remotely carry out critical aspects of their work.” Due to the social distancing and shelter-in-place or stay at home orders enacted due to the coronavirus, code officials without access to the proper technology are unable to complete essential business functions.

Many healthcare facilities, overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 patients and out of room to care for them, have had to use alternative locations such as school gymnasiums, hotels or temporary structures in parks in order to keep up with the demand. These alternative or temporary structures still require permit requests for temporary occupancy or code enforcement evaluations to ensure proper safety, yet many jurisdictions don’t have a way to process these requests without adequate software solutions. In fact, the ICC survey reported that:

  • Forty percent do not have the capability to do electronic/remote plan reviews
  • Thirty percent do not have the capability to do any aspect of electronic/remote permitting
  • Sixty-one percent do not have the capability for electronic/remote inspection

Municipalities that are lagging behind their counterparts in software, technology and the ability to easily transition to a remote workforce are especially scrambling to figure out a safe and efficient way to review plans, accept permit applications and complete necessary inspections. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. CityView customers have enjoyed the benefits of enabling code enforcement officers, inspectors and contractors to complete processes online, remotely and from the field. Take Cherokee County, Georgia, for example. Using CityView Mobile, all of Cherokee’s inspections are conducted in the field and the system allows “customers and citizens to see the outcome of an inspection seconds after it’s complete,” said Kevin J. Cully, Business Analyst and Database Administrator for the County. Cherokee also has an entirely paperless permitting and licensing process, made possible through CityView Permits & Inspections and CityView Business Licensing.

Processing plan reviews are especially difficult during this time if one is still relying on paper. While some government entities have set up no-contact dropboxes outside of City Hall for plans, they still have to deal with the issue of reviewing, marking up and returning the paper plans to the contractor. CityView Electronic Plans Review solution helps municipalities revolutionize their plan review process by turning it into a completely paperless, 100% electronic one, using the combined power of CityView and Bluebeam® Revu®. It allows for easy circulation, review and markup of plan documents, which shortens the overall turn-around time.

The CityView Portal allows permit applications, fee payments, permit issuance and inspection requests to be submitted online, reducing contact, saving time and increasing customer service.

Perhaps now is the time for local governments to make the investment in modern software solutions, so that they can be better prepared to weather the next storm. Doing so not only increases convenience to citizens, contractors and business owners, but it also can lead to a surge of efficiency across departments. Municipalities need to ask themselves if they can afford to forego such an expenditure, given the high level of productivity and customer satisfaction such technology can offer.