As we begin 2018, there is much to learn from the past year’s developments in emerging industries. On-demand rideshare companies are expanding across the globe while grappling with how best to define the industry and the individuals working in it. Short-term rental organizations such as Airbnb, Homeaway and others are simultaneously cited as the source of rising housing costs and also the solution to squeezed family budgets, all while regulators are working to find a path forward. The cannabis industry, and related delivery services, are moving into the mainstream as governments are building the systems to manage a new segment of the economy.
Behind these emerging technologies is the humble government permit and regulatory process. But, when it comes to moving local, state, and national economies and innovation forward, some governments are better positioned than others.
The Role Accela Plays
As the leading provider of permitting and regulatory solutions, Accela is helping governments understand and use technology in new ways. In 2017, we supported nearly 100 go-live launches, bringing modern tools and transparency to thousands of citizens around the world. And to better serve our customers, we continue to move governments to the cloud and are rapidly growing our SaaS offering to better meet their needs.
We also took concrete steps to strengthen the company for the long-term. We opened a new chapter for the company with a number of trusted high-level executive team hires including Troy Cogglola as Chief Product Officer, Jay Colfer as Chief Revenue Officer, Jonathan Knight as Chief Customer Officer, Srini Kakkera as Chief Technology Officer, and Heidi Lorenzen as Vice President of Marketing. Of course, I was thrilled to join the company this year as well.
We entered into a long-term partnership with Berkshire Partners, LLC, a Boston-based investment firm. The relationship will enable us to continue to grow and provide industry-leading solutions for governments of all sizes worldwide, and allow us to dedicate more resources to the development and delivery of products that power community efficiency. Of note, one of Accela’s newest board members from Berkshire Partners was initially drawn to investing in our company after watching his father spend his career in a city government permitting department that operated by paper. He saw the solutions Accela provides as a way to move government forward and is personally committed to ensuring the company continues to innovate and meet customers needs.
While these strengthening measures were being executed throughout 2017, Accela continued to focus on what it does best–being a trusted provider of government solutions to foster more engaged and prosperous communities. To attract businesses and drive economic development, cities need to have technology that is agile enough to adapt to ideas that will disrupt industries. Local governments are the perfect place to encourage this innovation, and citizens are increasingly looking to their mayors, city council members and city managers to produce meaningful results.
Providing Solutions to Deliver Results
When Denver, Colorado’s Department of Excise and Licenses (DEL) implemented the City’s Medical Marijuana Code in 2010, it was presented with a new, complex challenge: how to organize, access and manage a new licensure process with significant volumes and tight timelines. But it wasn’t until the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012 that industry demands forced the City and County of Denver, along with other Colorado jurisdictions, to reexamine how it had been managing medical marijuana operations and how to combat greater challenges with managing recreational marijuana operations.
As an Accela customer since 2009, DEL had already automated licensing processes for alcohol and other regulatory activities within the City and County, so it collaborated with Accela to extend its solution for marijuana licensing. The solution streamlines the marijuana licensing process by centralizing all information in a single system, data sharing has improved transparency and efficiency by allowing the Department to open its records to other departments and agencies. Looking ahead, DEL has estimated conservative savings of $3.5 million over five years.
Located in the southwestern corner of California, San Diego County is the second-most populous county in the State and full of California sunshine. As the department that issues all building permits in the County, the Department of Planning & Development Services (PDS) for San Diego County has seen a 300 percent increase in solar permitting in the past five years and wanted to get ahead of the trend to best serve its customers. PDS was already using Accela Land Management on the Civic Platform, so expanding its use to cover solar permitting was a logical next step. The department decided to offer online permitting in addition to in-person services and streamlined their internal processes.
Since bringing solar permitting online, PDS has experienced a 75 percent decrease in processing time for solar permits. In addition to solar, the Department now offers several other online permits and is processing more than 50 percent of all building permits online.
These two success stories exemplify our expanding offerings in the emerging regulatory space and highlight how governments of all shapes and sizes easily work with Accela to improve interactions with businesses and communities alike.
With new leadership, new partners and new solutions, we are looking forward to a very dynamic year ahead. As always, we are laser focused on our customers and will continue to provide agile, innovative solutions to power governments and empower communities. Here’s to an exciting 2018!