Palo Alto Taps Accela Partner to Create Permit Performance App for Real-Time Dashboard
Development Services takes advantage of open platform to build and deploy civic apps
Situated in the heart of Silicon Valley within miles of San Francisco and Stanford University, the City of Palo Alto, California is a world-recognized leader in technology development. As a full-service municipality that owns and operates its public utilities, it strives to provide the community with a higher quality of services, at a better value.
A complicated process involving multiple departments
How long is it taking us to get from application to building permit issuance? It’s the $64 million question asked by municipalities across the country as they oversee complex, multi-department plan reviews — and a question that Development Services Director Peter Pirnejad was determined to answer. “There are a ton of different interests involved in the construction of a building, and to get them all on the same page is a colossal feat,” shares Peter.
To identify trends and opportunities for improvement within the larger workflow, he had to know how the 10 different divisions involved in the City’s building plan review process were performing.
How Accela and CityGovApp empower the City of Palo Alto
Palo Alto teamed up with CityGovApp, a long-time Accela partner, to create a mobile app that would deliver real-time permitting statistics online. Pulling the City’s existing data from the Accela Civic Platform through CivicData, Accela’s open data portal, CityGovApp delivered a prototype within three months. Now, City leaders, department heads and others can instantly access and share the latest information on departmental review times, number and types of permits, days to final permitting and much more.
“When we find areas that need our attention, they’re not problems, they’re opportunities,” Peter says. “The app helps us focus on things that will deliver results and save time for staff, customers and contractors. It also gives you immediate verification that you’ve done a great job.”
The bottom line
Now, in seconds the City can access a detailed breakdown of day-to-day statistics and performance analytics — a view that previously required at least 40 hours of manpower to create. Also, by highlighting potential trouble spots within the larger review process, the app is helping individual teams accelerate and streamline final approvals and permitting. “One of our departments immediately started celebrating because only one building plan was late that entire month. From an operational standpoint, that was a huge success,” shares Peter.