Navigating Hurricane Reconstruction

September 23, 2019 by Meredith Trimble

How Three Florida Governments Managed New Code Compliance in a Hurricane's Aftermath

Navigating Hurricane Reconstruction

1992’s Hurricane Andrew caused the worst insurance crisis in the history of Florida. Old – and weak – building code compliance and enforcement regulations exacerbated the catastrophe by allowing local governments to choose their own processes. Vast inconsistencies in compliance and enforcement across the state created confusion and left many residents unprotected.

New Laws Require New Tech

To be better prepared for future natural disasters, Florida lawmakers created a single, minimum-standard building code to be enforced consistently by all local governments in the state. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety now rates Florida as having the strongest building codes of any hurricane-prone state.

While strict codes benefit both governments and residents, they also require modern, flexible technology solutions capable of supporting the new code compliance and enforcement activities. The two cities and one county below took early steps to innovate; implementing solutions that not only facilitate regulatory compliance but that create new efficiencies, automate workflows, break down burdensome silos, and effectively align daily work with the organization’s mission.  

1. City of Marco Island

After Hurricane Andrew, Marco Island dealt with the similarly devastating destruction of Hurricane Irma, which hit in 2017. Because the right technology was in place, the city was able to handle a building permit volume that more than doubled in one year when residents sought to rebuild.

Online permitting, digital plan reviews, and digital record keeping enabled residents to recover quickly. With an online portal, residents were spared the burden of manually submitting paper for plans and permits. And with all critical processes connected – from planning, permitting, and licensing to asset management and citizen requests – city staff handled the increased workload with no new hires and got residents up and building faster.

Read more about Marco Island here.

2.   Miami Beach

Before Hurricane Andrew, Miami Beach used multiple stand-alone systems for its regulatory functions, including permitting. This resulted in uncollected fees, inconsistent issuance and enforcement of regulations, and reliance on paper that created storage issues and workflow inefficiencies.

By implementing a new software solution for cross-departmental integration and efficiency, the old manual, paper-based processes are now automated. This facilitates better fee collections and allows leaders to more strategically allocate resources. Residents can also easily access code compliance and permitting cases online as well as apply for and research the status of pending applications at their convenience.

  Read more about Miami Beach here.

3.   St. Lucie County

An integrated permitting system backed by GIS helped St. Lucie County better align its process with its mission. A new system helped create a workflow that unified all permitting and development-related bodies under one umbrella. The system helped the county map 156 processes, which showed the full extent of cross-departmental overlap. This supported the county’s goal to provide excellent infrastructure for a high quality of life.

A citizen-facing front end allows the county to offer completely paperless permitting to staff and residents alike, including online payments, which saves time and effort across the board.

Read more about St. Lucie County here.

Explore in more detail how these governments are leveraging technology for building code compliance and enforcement in ways that will work for your own organization here.

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