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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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Guest Blog from CitySourced | The Value of the Accela Civic Platform for Government Agencies

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At the Accela Engage User Conference in San Diego, many of us heard Accela software referred to as the “Civic Platform.” What does it really mean to be a software platform? For us at CitySourced , as a strategic development partner for Accela, we believe the platform provides the back-office foundation on which our solution can thrive. We’ve created a citizen engagement platform that serves as a municipality’s “mobile City Hall.” Through our solution, a resident can get easy access to such services as reporting a pothole (asset management), submitting overgrown brush (fire code enforcement), purchasing a fishing or pet license (licensing) or paying a parking ticket (finance). Our audience is your organization’s public-facing community, and our development strategy is a mobile-first, responsive approach. What that all means is that we don’t personally want to build the code enforcement system or the licensing system. However, without these important underlying systems...
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Guest Blog from VuSpex | It’s a Win-Win-Win: Government, Accela and Industry Partners Work Together for Even Greater Results

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We’re energized following a great week at Accela Engage. The event brings together agencies from around the world, best-of-breed partners and the growing Accela ecosystem. The VuSpex team enjoys our membership in the Accela community. Maybe it sounds a little hokey, but we are actually true believers in the spirit and message of Accela stakeholders. We know we are part of an innovative community and movement that is making democracy better. We do our bit by helping communities build better and in real time. For those of you who do not know about what we do at VuSpex, please check out this 2.5 minute video that we shared at Accela Engage last week: https://vimeo.com/102289421 (password is “engage”). The video shows our Smartphone Inspection Solutions app in action, and we’re proud that it was a winner in this year’s Accela Construct App Challenge. If you’d like to learn more, take a...
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On Open Data, Platforms and Public/Private Partnerships

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Mark Headd and I were asked by Professor Peter Robertson to share our perspectives at the upcoming Academy of Management Conference . Unfortunately, our Engage Conference precludes us from attending in person, so we filmed a brief video to send on our behalf. We had a chance to discuss the Accela Civic Platform and CivicData.com and to share our thoughts on: Challenges and opportunities agencies face when building open data How standardization is essential to fostering innovation The value of open data to agencies, developers and citizens How public/private partnerships foster innovation How a platform approach is essential for scale How civic engagement and collaborative governance improve communities These things are inextricably linked. Opening data fuels civic hacking and innovation. Standardization brings cross-jurisdiction visibility and scale and leverage to civic developers. Collaboration and true partnerships between agencies, developers and vendors like Accela incubates these civic innovations. A platform-based business model...
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Working on a New Vision of Democracy at CivicMakers

Working on a New Vision of Democracy at CivicMakers
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In a world of civic cynicism and disconnection, a surprising group of people came together to discuss a new vision for democracy. The first Inaugural CivicMakers Salon was held this week at the Runway Incubator in San Francisco. The challenge posed to event attendees was to answer this question: What should real democracy look like and how can technology help us get there? A new conversation about the opportunity to use technology to bridge the gap between government and citizens is being encouraged by events like this. To kick it off we heard from one of the event organizers, Lawrence Grodeska, Director of Nonprofit Community at Change.org, "I'm so inspired by the 125 people who came together to share their vision for how technology can help improve democracy. It's clear that people want to talk about this, and I hope CivicMakers can help bring this conversation back to every tavern,...
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Looking for the Next Great Civic Startup: The Accela Civic App Challenge

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At Accela, we’re committed to finding ways to leverage the talents and ideas of civic entrepreneurs and open data hackers to benefit the governments we serve. We believe that fostering the creation of new civic startups has enormous potential to benefit public sector agencies, and we’re committed to finding ways to do this. That’s why we were thrilled several weeks ago to launch the Accela Civic App Challenge . The Problem The biggest challenge facing governments in adopting new civic technologies is the absence of an easy way to incorporate new solutions into their existing IT infrastructure. Creating a framework in which civic hackers and entrepreneurs can build smart new apps that can easily be adopted by governments has proved daunting and has caused some in the civic technology community to worry about the movement’s future viability. At Accela, we’re working to address this challenge through the Civic Platform and...
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