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At Accela, we understand the power of permit data.

For the past several months, Accela has been working with a broad consortium of stakeholders to develop a data standard for building permits issued by cities and counties. We’re helping a growing number of our customers publish their data in this format and we’ve been hard at work building a prototype application based on this new data standard.

Now we want you to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty using this data — we want to hear what people think of the data we’re currently publishing, and what they’d like to see in a new building permit data standard.

You can find sample data from a growing number of government agencies in the new Building and Land Development Standard (BLDS – pronounced “builds”) here, and sample apps that use this data here and here.

Why building permits?

Thousands of government agencies around the world use the Accela Civic Platform to automate core business processes, including the issuing of building permits, as part of the job of providing essential services to citizens. Accela’s customer base covers an estimated 60 percent of the U.S. population, with customers using our platform to manage the building permit process covering almost one quarter of the U.S. population.

That’s a lot of building permits! And, that’s a lot of building permit data.

Building permit data can provide huge insights to those working to improve communities. Permit data can be used as a proxy for economic activity and allow for insights into how an upswing (or downturn) in the economy plays out at the community level. It might show the changing character of neighborhoods, and how gentrification is playing out in cities.

This data also has the potential to help improve government operations. 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.

How you can help

Data-driven decision making is becoming more common in larger cities and states, and there are now efforts underway to help improve the adoption of data analytics in smaller cities as well. We think that data standards — shared specifications that are governed by a broad array of stakeholders, that can be adopted by any government — are a key component in the new data “revolution” we see happening in government.

We need your help to make the BLDS data standard better.

Check out the sample data that has already been published, and open an issue to report a problem, ask a question or suggest an enhancement in the GitHub repo that is being used to develop this new standard.

Together, we can build a better building permit data standard.

[Note: Picture courtesy of Flickr user Giles Douglas]


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