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The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a shock to the local governments responsible for managing their community’s response. But if a silver lining were possible in all this, it is certainly how individuals, organizations, and companies have risen to the moment and rallied around innovative solutions, technologies, and partnerships to address some of our most pressing civic challenges.

people with computers and masks for coronavirus

At Accela, our teams have aligned even more closely with our agency customers worldwide as we navigate this new reality. Whether it is using our tools to conduct business online, provide mobile or video inspection capabilities for field workers, or enable a remote workforce, agencies continue to impress with their ability to go the extra mile to keep their communities safe. Here are some of the ways local governments are showing digital leadership in their COVID-19 response efforts.

To keep governments up and running and deliver critical services in this time of crisis, agencies are configuring Accela’s flexible online permitting and remote inspection solutions. Palo Alto, California is accepting, reviewing, and providing feedback on permit applications online through Accela Citizen Access. This enables the city to serve customers remotely amid “shelter-in-place” mandates and helps ensure construction projects can move forward or resume quickly once restrictions are lifted. Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Community Development Department is continuing standard operating procedures via interactive video inspections. The jurisdiction’s field workers can conveniently distribute inspection results through Accela’s Civic Application as soon as the next day.

Lancaster, California is leveraging Accela’s Civic App for Building to provide a variety of digital citizen services, including online building permits, plan submittal, and review to accommodate critical, timely civic projects. Milwaukie, Oregon is also implementing the solution for these purposes as they allow remote building staff to continue to perform inspections virtually for new construction, gas lines, and sewer repairs within unoccupied structures or environments. Grass Valley, California is using Accela’s Civic App in lieu of its closed city counter and transitioning all customer interactions online to minimize public health risks that could occur via in-person interactions at city hall and help protect the community’s health and safety.


Elsewhere in California, Menlo Park and San Diego are implementing these tools to enhance their digital capabilities and protect citizens. San Diego proactively transitioned to online permitting and remote inspections to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among customers and staff, and the city is working with Accela’s Customer Support teams to maximize the use of their new digital tools through real-time training sessions.

“The city is taking necessary preventative safety measures while being responsive to the business needs of our customers,” said Elyse W. Lowe, Director of the San Diego Development Services Department. “We are quickly leveraging available technology to increase our options and continuously implementing new safety measures in response to this unprecedented global pandemic.”

San Diego is also modernizing code compliance complaints so they can be reported through the city’s popular Get it Done! tipster app for more convenient online reporting. Menlo Park is in the midst of developing work-from-home procedures and resources for its agency staff to navigate new modes of business operation during “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” mandates in the Bay Area.

In the Pacific Northwest, Lincoln City, Oregon is offering options for electronic building and mechanical permits and inspections with Accela’s technology. It has also developed its own alternative service delivery options for its residents to address citizen requests and to assist patrons who still have business to conduct with the city. The city continues to monitor and adapt to updates from the Federal and State governments as conditions evolve. Seattle, Washington self-implemented Accela’s technology as part of its effort to enforce remote processes and avoid direct person-to-person interactions as the region looks to heal from the initial impact of the virus.

Manatee County, Florida’s agency staff members are adapting to and managing their increased workload amidst the pandemic by implementing Accela’s solutions, which helped reduce paper-based processes and establish new channels for information-sharing across county offices. The county’s transition to digital tools also empowers its agency staff to work from home. Additionally, with Accela Planning and Permitting, citizens can make payments or submit plans online, and field workers can still review plans virtually to keep essential processes moving forward.

The ingenuity of our government partners continues to motivate our teams at Accela to make a positive impact. It is a constant reminder that we are in the right business at the right time. These anecdotes have provided the inspiration behind the upcoming enhancements to our core Civic Platform and our specific COVID-19 Response Solutions, which were created in response to the needs of our customers and are constantly evolving based on what we hear from agencies. My experience over the past several months has taught me that there is no limit to the transformative power we have to create change when we work together. Through trust, collaboration, and conversation, I firmly believe we will emerge from this crisis and co-create a better future for governments and their citizens.

To help get services online quickly, or if you have a specific COVID-19 response use case you want to discuss that could help your community, please contact us here.

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