Two City Service Wins
June 18, 2020 by
Every city strives to provide outstanding services to its residents. It can be challenging, however, to keep community priorities on course in the face of common obstacles. Siloed departments and processes can lead to inefficiencies that cost more money and hamper responsiveness. Even adopting modern technology can present challenges, as not all residents have equal digital literacy or the same needs.
The cities below successfully overcame these obstacles by transforming operations and capitalizing on integrated software to improve services, meet the needs of citizens with varied tech capabilities, and save time and money along the way.
Realizing new efficiencies in resident services often begins with internal operational changes. When Temecula sought to improve residents’ overall experience with the city, the first step was to break down its own siloed processes. By updating the city’s civic services software, leaders were able to automate and centrally connect all community development workflows.
The new, integrated system opened lines of communication across departments. “It’s nice because everyone is utilizing the same software the same way,” said Sara Seng, the city’s senior IT specialist. “They understand the system, the way it works, and it’s similar across departments.” The new paperless workflow saves staff time – what used to take hours is now complete in 15 minutes. This translates into cost savings for the city.
The new GIS-enabled technology also boosted resident service with increased visibility of permits, plans, code cases, and licenses. Through a public portal, residents can apply for building permits or view the status of local projects. Public customers are now spending 75% less time waiting at the permitting office and staff is spending 30% less time processing each transaction. The result is a 24- to 48-hour faster turnaround time from plan submission to approval.
The City of Renton needed a one-stop online permitting portal that would meet its complex functionality and reporting needs while also being user-friendly for the entire community. Implementing a customizable citizen self-service portal for online permitting allowed the city to ask the right questions to best serve applicants. In going live with the system, the city was even able to reduce permit configurations from 62 down to just four. It also allowed the city to collect the most valuable data to inform future policy.
Offering citizens an intuitive yet robust online tool that integrated with the city’s existing systems created efficiencies across the board. Renton combined 31 fee templates into four, still servicing all building types. The intuitive system virtually eliminated permits voided due to incorrect type. “With fewer voided permits, less manual input, and no longer needing an appointment to apply for a permit, staff members can focus their time in a streamlined approach,” said Amanda Askren, property and technical services manager for the city. Annual maintenance costs for online permitting dropped by 90%, freeing up money to fund additional projects and add team resources.
Innovative community development solutions generate real value for city businesses, developers, residents, and staff. “Utilizing new technologies to achieve efficiencies and improved processes sends a message to the community that the City of Temecula is committed to delivering the highest quality of services,” said Michael Naggar, Mayor 2019, City of Temecula.