Without a doubt, 2015 was Accela’s biggest year to date. In February, we announced new funding — bringing us just north of $233 million invested in the business. We’re using the latest round to continue growing the Accela family through acquisitions and partnerships, while investing in building an even stronger Civic Platform.
Building on six announced acquisitions in 2014 (Decade Software, Government Outreach, Kinsail, Envista, IQM2, GeoTMS), we established our productivity and civic engagement platform as unparalleled in the industry, adding Springbrook Software, SoftRight and PublicStuff in Spring 2015. We’re now laser-focused on efficiently integrating these stellar technologies into the core infrastructure of the Accela Civic Platform. In October, we proudly released Civic Platform 8.0, offering a responsive and carefully crafted user interface that reinvents the way government workers interact with residents and meet their daily goals.
In 2015, Accela’s customer base grew significantly, and across all product lines we celebrated more than 200 cities and counties going live on the Civic Platform. Some implementations of note include New York City’s DOB, whose 400 building inspectors use our technology, Province of Newfoundland/Labrador, which uses Accela to permit fisheries, the Department of Environmental Conservancy for the State of New York, which worked with us to build a custom front-end for its hunting and fishing licenses, the State of Michigan and City of Chesapeake, which went live successfully on 8.0 very shortly after its release, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which brought a large group of business licensing departments live on the Civic Platform. Suffice to say, it has been a very busy year of implementations across the country.
Another highlight of 2015 was partnering with organizations that share our vision of making government more efficient and effective for residents. In July, Accela led a consortium of civic data technology companies to launch the Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS), an ambitious endeavor to make building and construction permit data more usable.
In September, we were excited to join Pacific Gas and Electric Company, SolarCity, Qado Energy and the City of Livermore in forming the Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance. The goal of the initiative is to enable the construction and interconnection of rooftop solar systems in one day or less, an unprecedented goal given the industry’s current average of 30 days.
While 2015 was a strong year for Accela, our customers and our footprint on the industry, I’m optimistic that 2016 will bring about even more progressive change in the space. Here’s what I see for government this year…
Municipalities shift from reactive & responsive to proactive & predictive
Governments of all sizes are embarking on multi-year, and in some cases multi-decade, pushes to modernize their IT infrastructure. IDC predicted that by the end of 2015, U.S. and local government IT spending would topple $6.4 billion for civic tech. The final numbers aren’t in yet, but I’d venture to say we got close. In 2015, we saw dramatic shifts in government willingness to implement cloud technology. Cloud tech is not only rescuing distressed budgets, it’s also enabling governments to move faster and with more flexibility.
The open data movement matures and increases government transparency
2016 brings more government agencies pushing new engagement boundaries and embracing an entrepreneurial spirit instead of waiting for citizens to come to them. Online surveys, social media, streaming video of public meetings and publishing relevant documents or meeting minutes on an online portal are all ways cities will improve trust and transparency to keep citizens up to date and involved.
The sharing economy infiltrates local governments through regionalization
Consolidation of government services is emerging across the country to improve the quality, quantity and efficiency of services offered. Aided by increasing budget constraints, this trend will only grow. In addition, multiple state agencies are also starting to embrace the government sharing economy, including Oregon, where the State created a voluntary, statewide ePermitting System on a single platform and is now sharing this platform with more than 20 separate jurisdictions.
As you can see, big things are in store for the sector. Although we may not be able to predict everything on the horizon, I’m excited to have our dedicated Accela family and partners along on the exciting journey.
Here’s to a transformative year!