Enhancing Engagement in Development
November 01, 2021 by
Virtual solutions equipped local governments and their constituents with tools to continue normal business operations remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, these same solutions still serve to connect citizens to the community development process. Robust community development strengthens jurisdictions socially and economically.
In a context of recovery and a new focus on growth, driving virtual community development is an approach that is proven to lead to success.
Benefits of Self-Service
Leveraging technology in key areas of civic services can help accelerate community development in beneficial ways. This is explored through examples from jurisdictions around the country in Tyler’s new resource, “Inspired Communities Operating Virtually.”
Self-service web portals, for example, inform residents of local community development projects and business activities. These portals also allow residents or contractors to apply to do business with a municipality at the click of a button, 24/7/365. Powerful self-service portals facilitate permitting and licensing application management as well as property research, payments, inspections, and more.
Jurisdictions are further benefiting from electronic plan submission, review, and reporting processes that help departments become streamlined and paperless. With digital plans, all stakeholders can access the information they need, when they need it, and trust its accuracy. Digital permit guides help applicants navigate the development process from application through approval, removing complexity along the way.
Cities that have put self-service solutions into practice provide scalable examples of success:
- With citizen self-service software, El Cajon, California, went from a paper-based environment to a completely virtual one in just 30 days.
- Lake Forest, California, experienced an increase in online traffic from citizen self-service, including triple the number of online payments.
- Richmond, Virginia, added more than 700 users to its citizen self-service portal in just over a month after transitioning to online processes.
- Riverside County, California, processes hundreds of new permit and plan entitlement applications entirely virtually each week. In 2020, online permit and plan applications increased by more than 20%.
- New Hanover County, North Carolina, increased online permitting by 23% in 2020, by allowing 80% of users to submit online permits.
- The success in shifting from paper to virtual permits in Olathe, Kansas, compelled other departments to consider similar transformations.
- Henderson, Nevada, and Marco Island, Florida, improved service response and economic recovery by implementing electronic permitting.
These jurisdictions’ journeys show how communities of any size can drive development and growth in smart, sustainable ways. As Rick Usher, former assistant city manager of Kansas City, Missouri, notes, “The convenience of online access and the range of city services that can be utilized is something all local governments should be interested in bringing to their customers and residents.”