Accela Inaugurates “Accela Automator” Awards for Excellence in Government Technology

New awards given to web- and cloud-enabled customers making government easier, faster, more accessible

SAN RAMON, Calif., Oct. 3, 2011 Accela, Inc., the leading provider of web- and cloud-based software applications for e-government, today introduced the “Accela Automator” awards, a new honor bestowed at Accela’s annual User Conference to customers who have deployed the company’s flagship Accela Automation enterprise software and related solutions to make government easier, faster, and more accessible.   Accela revealed the names of the award’s first three recipients announced at the August 2011 User Conference: the City of Tigard, Ore.; Boulder County, Colo.; and the City of El Paso, Texas.  The awards were presented by Accela CEO and President, Maury Blackman. 

“I am continuously impressed and amazed by our customers: their ingenuity, creativity, and commitment to find better ways to deliver services in the face of great challenges,” Blackman stated.  “The Accela Automator awards are designed to acknowledge governments operating at their best – in the case of this year’s winners, by helping their regions thrive economically, recover from disasters, and manage quality-of-life issues.” 

Tigard: Easier Code Enforcement for Citizens and Workers

In Tigard, a Portland suburb of 48,000, budget reductions in 2010 had led to the elimination of dedicated code enforcement positions, leaving limited resources to process complaints and perform site visits.  The city therefore decided to automate the code compliance process and provide citizens with online access to file complaints.  From a cloud-based Accela Automation system already in place, Tigard added the companion Accela Citizen Access solution, which provides a web portalenabling citizens to submit and track code compliance requests from their home, office or mobile device.  In addition, the city now generates form letters to complainants and violators from the Accela Automation case information, eliminating costly, time-consuming site visits by relying on citizens to submit complaint detail and provide follow-up. 

The result has been a 75 percent reduction in staff time required to process and respond to compliance requests, and a 90 percent drop in field staff time.  Tigard has made it easier for citizens to interact with their government about code compliance, and easier for its own staff to continue providing compliance services with limited resources. 

Boulder County: Faster Recovery from Disaster

Boulder County’s Land Use Department (LUD) is focused on providing a range of services – including development review, planning, permits, inspections, mapping services, zoning enforcement, forest health, and more – to a population of approximately 43,000 residing in the unincorporated rural plains, historic town sites, and high mountain communities along the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.  The county’s mean residential property values are among the highest in Colorado. 

On Labor Day 2010, a wildfire ignited in Fourmile Canyon, a mountainous area just west of the city of Boulder, and spread across 6,180 acres of rugged terrain that includes a mixed mosaic of public and private forested lands, high mountain meadows, and a diverse blend of residential properties.  The fire, which ultimately destroyed 169 homes and damaged dozens of other structures, was the most expensive in Colorado history in terms of property losses, and impacted more Boulder County residents than any other disaster in recent years.

Using the county’s GIS-enriched Accela Automation system, LUD was able to comprehensively track destroyed property and fire-damaged land, spanning multiple land tracts, including: private property, county open space, as well as state and federal lands.  LUD staff leveraged the online Accela user community for suggestions on creating a single new application type to store disaster-related items. From there, LUD staff accessed permitting and property records from Accela Automation to create parcel reports, organize debris cleanup, develop property owner packets containing critical rebuilding information, conduct owner surveys, and finally begin processing reconstruction applications and issuing permits in record time. LUD also began preemptive planning for erosion and flood control by documenting areas of destroyed vegetation that would require mulch and seed treatment.  Boulder County’s quick action and strategic planning, with the help of Accela Automation, streamlined the disaster-recovery process.  

El Paso: More Accessible Data for Field-based Workers

For Accela Automation customer El Paso, which serves a growing population of more than 650,000, improving productivity, documentation quality, and team satisfaction across all departments is an ongoing goal – and empowering its mobile workers with the latest technology was an important step in that direction.  Wanting to extend processing capabilities to the field for inspections, code enforcement, and work orders, El Paso deployed Accela Mobile Office, running on rugged tablet PCs, among the Public Health, Parks, and Engineering & Construction Management departments; the Fire Marshall’s office, and the Environmental Services Department’s Solid Waste, Vector Control, and Code Enforcement divisions. 

The combined solution has provided field-based workers on these teams with direct access to the same data, GIS maps and tools as back-office staff, while delivering capabilities that are critical to teams on the go, such as GIS/GPS routing, broadcast messaging, and easy navigation.  Since El Paso’s mountainous terrain often causes lost wireless connectivity during transactions, Accela Mobile Office’s create-and-store capability, which permits later data synching, was also critical.  Today, El Paso’s office and mobile teams are closely connected with anytime-anywhere information at their fingertips, and revenues across the deployed departments are markedly higher.