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Environmental Health Is a Contact Sport

Environmental Health Is a Contact Sport
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Environmental Health leaders and practitioners convened in Orlando this month to fortify core practices and study emerging public health matters during the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)'s Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition. Each year, for nearly twenty years, I attend and often bring a new staff member to get a flavor of environmental health and to internalize its mission. NEHA's new charismatic Executive Director, Dr. David Dyjack , made a splash with his keynote address. Taking a posture reminiscent of President Roosevelt's fireside chats, Dr. Dyjack introduced himself and called upon NEHA leaders, members and staff to embrace a three-point strategy, which included activating environmental health professionals, demanding a seat at the table where EH policy is made and executing on a global scale. Dr. David Dyjack, NEHA’s new Executive Director, delivering the keynote. In phrasing that was emblematic of the conference vibe, he asserted, "Environmental Health is a contact...
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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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Announcing BLDS 1.0

Announcing BLDS 1.0
In May, I described a months-long process that was focused on the development of a new building permit data standard called the Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS, pronounced “builds”). When we discussed our work in helping to develop this standard, we made specific note of the importance of building permit data: “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.” Last week, we announced the  release of BLDS version 1.0 , which means that the standard...
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Last Call: Why It’s “Prime Time” for Alcoholic Beverage Control Regulation

Last Call: Why It’s “Prime Time” for Alcoholic Beverage Control Regulation
Nearly 100 years post-Prohibition, alcohol control remains a highly complex topic. This is due in large part to inconsistencies surrounding alcohol licensing, permitting and citizen confusion about the rules and regulations of when and where alcoholic beverages can be purchased and consumed. State by state, differences abound for citizens’ ability to buy alcohol in grocery stores vs. liquor stores, and on Sunday vs. any day. Questions linger even within restaurants and bars: What time constitutes "last call," and is it consistent across county and state lines? Business owners face a slightly different challenge: a lengthy and complex application process for liquor licenses and permits that can require months of waiting to receive an approval, or worse, a denial. In a previous life, I was the State Licensing Director for the State of Connecticut. I’ve seen the thick paper files of alcohol permit applications, reference checks and background information required for...
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Civic Innovation in the Triangle

Civic Innovation in the Triangle
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This past weekend, a CityCamp unconference and hackathon were held in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Long known as a home for technology innovators, the area has hosted a CityCamp event for the last five years, and the event is now marketed statewide. I had the privilege to present as a keynote speaker at this year's event and to attend the weekend hackathon. CityCamp NC is an "unconference," where attendees collaboratively decide on the agenda for the event in a brainstorming session that takes place shortly after the event begins. CityCamp NC was also complemented by some planned sessions run by APPCityLife (an Accela Development partner) and Girl Develop It . A full house at Girl Develop It RDU's training session at CityCamp NC. In addition, a panel discussion kicked off the event where innovative uses of geospatial data by municipal governments in the state were showcased. Accela...
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Developing a Data Standard for Building Permits

Developing a Data Standard for Building Permits
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...
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