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Accela Helps Launch New Open Data Standard for Building Permits to Improve Community Planning and Economic Development

Alliance Releases First Standardized Format to Make Building and Construction Permit Information More Usable


Accela, the leading provider of cloud-based civic engagement solutions, announced today that a consortium of parties has released the first open data specification for building and construction permit information – the Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS, pronounced “builds”). The alliance of civic and real estate technology companies, government agencies, and other parties made the data specification available on GitHub.

The goal of BLDS is to create a mutually beneficial structured flow of information from the public sector to the private sector. BLDS will make data about buildings and land more usable, accessible and valuable for citizens, developers and consumer applications. A shared standard adopted by multiple governments helps foster the development of new solutions that can be shared between jurisdictions and allow for analysis across jurisdictions. Standards like BLDS will be increasingly important as data-driven decision-making and open data efforts gain momentum at the state and city levels.

“Building permit data can provide huge insights to those working to improve communities,” said Mark Headd, a Developer Evangelist for Accela and former Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia. “Permit data can be used as a proxy for economic activity and allow for insights into how an upswing – or downturn – in the economy plays out at the community level. It might show the changing character of neighborhoods and how gentrification is playing out in cities.”

BLDS version 1.0 is a standardized format for jurisdictions to use when reporting information on building and construction permits as open data. The specification was created by professionals from Accela, BuildFax, Buildingeye, Civic Insight, DR-i-VE Decisions, SiteCompli, Socrata and Zillow, and applied to data sets contributed by a growing list of cities and counties.

Early adopter municipalities publishing data in the BLDS format include San Diego County, California, the City of Alameda, California, Deschutes County, Oregon, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Tampa, Florida, Seattle, Washington, Fort Worth, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts, among others.

“The first step towards creating a building standard is getting agreement on what it will offer municipalities,” said Eddie Tejeda, CEO of Civic Insight. “We are excited to contribute to the creation of the standard, but also to leverage the data to provide tremendous value to the public.”

The work to develop this standard is part of a broader effort by the civic technology community to develop shared standards for open data that can be adopted by any government that wishes to use them. To date, work has been done on standards for citizen service requeststransit datapark and trail datarestaurant inspection data, and several other types of commonly used government data.

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Gabe Graham

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