By Kathryn Vargas on Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Category: Events

Accela Engage Series: Q&A with Dave Sullivan, Applications Specialist for the Cape Cod Commission

With over three years working as an Applications Specialist for the Cape Cod Commission (CCC), Dave Sullivan has successfully implemented four different accounts on the Civic Platform. His charge is to look for ways to become more cost-effective and his agency is looking to leverage regional resources to do so. The CCC is transforming from a data collection agency to a value-add agency, using data to improve economic development.

Have you attended Engage in the past?
Yes, this will be my third Engage and my second one where I will be speaking. Last year I co-presented on using Accela and GIS to create an environmental determination (parcel) report.

What things do you enjoy most about Engage?
I have been able to go to Engage for all three years I have been involved with Cape Cod. And in fact, I joined the commission at the end of May, and went to my first Engage that August. I was very happy to find nice people from multiple agencies who understood where I was at the time and helped me learn and thrive in the Accela community. I now try to pay it forward and help other agencies with the knowledge I have gained.

What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?
I always look forward to seeing the new product enhancements and enjoy meeting new people from different areas to exchange ideas. You can learn a lot from people at Engage. There is also great hands-on training.

What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?
Every year I come away with something interesting to bring back to the town. Last year, I brought back information on offsite inspections and spoke to the building department about it. Another year I brought back information on plan reviews. I like to look for something that is technically cutting edge and interesting that shows the power of software and where we can go in the future, even if we aren’t there yet, because it gives us something to shoot for.

What are you presenting on this year at Engage?
I will be speaking about regionalization and beyond with Accela. We will show how to best utilize Accela with required projects and demands, and how you can save time and cut costs to leverage ideas from multiple agencies. We will show how the Cape Cod Commission started a template to standardize projects. And in fact, what we created was adopted by Accela and is now a BPT for the State of Massachusetts, which is leveraged here.

What interested you about presenting at Engage?
I like to be able to explain what our agency is doing with Accela so we can share our ideas to help others. The commission has really had an interesting and global view of utilizing Accela to the fullest. We have always had the vision of our project not only being regional, but also statewide. We wanted to create something that could be useful across the state for things such as permits, licenses and applications. We want to guide people with what they need in terms of different applications they need. We keep an eye to the future.

What do you hope attendees get out of your session?
I hope attendees will be able to take a regional look at their future projects to benefit themselves and their neighbors. There are only a finite number of resources agencies have. So, for example, if you have regional IT projects, you can leverage resources. And a lot of projects really do cross boundaries — for example, a permit that encompasses different municipalities. You can really help the citizen with a positive, uniform process.

How does your presentation reflect this year's tagline of “Where Civic Tech Connects?”
I think it really goes with the theme because we are talking about how technology connects towns and counties. With Accela and GeoTMS, we reach out of our boundaries across the state. We are connecting towns across the state and our template has now helped other towns roll out Accela. We took years to roll out, but with our help and connections, others only take months. Also, other things like GIS can be regionalized as well. By leveraging services, we can help other towns connect, we can help people connect.

What are your top challenges right now?
We learned a lot from the initial implementation and are now trying to get towns around us to be internal champions who can take over their day-to-day administrative tasks, such as adding or removing users and updating fees. A lot of towns rely on me right now, and we want to help them to be more self-sufficient. It has been hard for these smaller and less technologically advanced towns to find the bandwidth because they have a tight budget and older technology.

What initiatives are you focused on in the next year?
Next year, we are going to be focused on a new open government initiative. Our agency has been big on data collection and we just partnered with OpenGov.

How is technology changing the way your community does business and engages citizens?
With a community that has about 35% vacation homes, many of the people in our area are coming from cities where they can access services online, like permits. They expect us to be technologically advanced and to provide the service they expect from larger, more metropolitan areas, so we are trying to meet that challenge. We have done a lot so far, and are looking to do even more in the future.

For more information about Accela Engage, visit the conference website.

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