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Accela Engage Is Next Week!

Accela Engage Is Next Week!
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It’s hard to believe Accela Engage 2015 is almost here! Many of us here at Accela have been working hard for months to make sure this is a great event. From planning the presentations, sessions and training to the event logistics and fun activities (like Paramount Studios Monday night for our Customer Appreciation Dinner!), the office has been a whirlwind of activity. To lighten things up a bit, we recently had a “guess how many pins are in a jar” contest, and the winner is the woman whose team is responsible for much of the design work you’ll see at Engage – be sure to tell her what an amazing job they did when you see her in LA! I’d also like to give a huge shout-out to master event planner Candice Nepomuceno, who is the wizard behind the curtain for this year’s conference. Our multi-talented Creative Director Karla Wong...
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It’s Always Sunny in…Delaware? Solar Industry Trends That May Surprise You

It’s Always Sunny in…Delaware? Solar Industry Trends That May Surprise You
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I recently spent a hot and humid few days in Charlotte (Mecklenburg County!), North Carolina, which was hosting the National Association of Counties (NACo) annual convention. Vince Nicoletti, the Building Chief from one of our great customers, San Diego County, was asked to share his department’s experience around online solar permitting at NACo’s Technology & Innovation Summit. Vince was also part of the San Diego County team that was being honored by NACo with an award for its Process Improvement Team (“The PIT crew”). San Diego County might be a leading indicator for the rapid growth that we’re expecting to see for residential solar in the coming years — the County has seen a 300 percent increase in requests for solar permits in five years and expects to issue 6,000 in 2015. Many attribute this spike to the ownership arrangements now available that clear away the hefty upfront costs of...
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Environmental Health Is a Contact Sport

Environmental Health Is a Contact Sport
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Environmental Health leaders and practitioners convened in Orlando this month to fortify core practices and study emerging public health matters during the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)'s Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition. Each year, for nearly twenty years, I attend and often bring a new staff member to get a flavor of environmental health and to internalize its mission. NEHA's new charismatic Executive Director, Dr. David Dyjack , made a splash with his keynote address. Taking a posture reminiscent of President Roosevelt's fireside chats, Dr. Dyjack introduced himself and called upon NEHA leaders, members and staff to embrace a three-point strategy, which included activating environmental health professionals, demanding a seat at the table where EH policy is made and executing on a global scale. Dr. David Dyjack, NEHA’s new Executive Director, delivering the keynote. In phrasing that was emblematic of the conference vibe, he asserted, "Environmental Health is a contact...
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Guest Blog from Buildingeye | How Palo Alto Makes It Easier for Staff and Citizens to View Planning Applications

Guest Blog from Buildingeye | How Palo Alto Makes It Easier for Staff and Citizens to View Planning Applications
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Earlier this month, buildingeye joined with the City of Palo Alto and Accela on a webinar to share how we worked together to bring life to Palo Alto city’s planning data in just a matter of weeks. After a brief introduction by Ken Sawtelle, Director of Accela’s Center of Excellence team, I introduced Roland Rivera, a Land Use Analyst in the City of Palo Alto, who demonstrated and explained how he uses the buildingeye application to enhance his daily work with better outcomes and efficiencies. Dealing with over 400 planning applications per year, from variances to individual and architectural reviews including amendments and zone changes, the City needed an easier way to share data. The City of Palo Alto was already using Accela Land Management on the Civic Platform, so all of its planning data was held electronically since July 2011. Roland and his team decided they “…needed a spatial...
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Announcing BLDS 1.0

Announcing BLDS 1.0
In May, I described a months-long process that was focused on the development of a new building permit data standard called the Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS, pronounced “builds”). When we discussed our work in helping to develop this standard, we made specific note of the importance of building permit data: “A shared standard for building permit data that can be adopted by multiple governments will help foster the development of new solutions that can be shared between jurisdictions. It will allow for analysis across jurisdictions, helping to highlight what works well and what doesn't. And, most importantly, it can help foster a better understanding of the permit process — which can have a direct impact on the neighborhoods we live in — by ensuring a common vocabulary for important events and activities.” Last week, we announced the  release of BLDS version 1.0 , which means that the standard...
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Last Call: Why It’s “Prime Time” for Alcoholic Beverage Control Regulation

Last Call: Why It’s “Prime Time” for Alcoholic Beverage Control Regulation
Nearly 100 years post-Prohibition, alcohol control remains a highly complex topic. This is due in large part to inconsistencies surrounding alcohol licensing, permitting and citizen confusion about the rules and regulations of when and where alcoholic beverages can be purchased and consumed. State by state, differences abound for citizens’ ability to buy alcohol in grocery stores vs. liquor stores, and on Sunday vs. any day. Questions linger even within restaurants and bars: What time constitutes "last call," and is it consistent across county and state lines? Business owners face a slightly different challenge: a lengthy and complex application process for liquor licenses and permits that can require months of waiting to receive an approval, or worse, a denial. In a previous life, I was the State Licensing Director for the State of Connecticut. I’ve seen the thick paper files of alcohol permit applications, reference checks and background information required for...
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