LAS VEGAS, Nev., Aug. 4, 2009 – At its annual User Conference, Accela, Inc. today announced that the City of Pittsburgh has signed a $1.2 million contract for Accela to develop and deploy a web-based system that will transform the city’s current walk-in permitting process into an innovative, e-permitting approach. Accela Automation® software will provide the back-end functionality for an online infrastructure that will empower Pittsburgh residents and businesses by allowing them to apply and pay for most permits online and to track the approval processes from start to finish. Pittsburgh departments receive approximately 160,000 applications for permits and business licenses annually that generate over $13 million in fees.
The deal underscores Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s goal for smarter government by using technology to achieve best operating practices among City departments. “Even in times of recession, it’s important for Pittsburgh to make strategic investments that will strengthen its competitive position, reduce waste, and facilitate economic development,” Mayor Ravenstahl said. “Pittsburgh’s investment in Accela’s advanced e-permitting technology will help us streamline both internal day-to-day operations and reduce the time to do business or develop property.”
Accela Automation provides government agencies with a solution to automate workflow, forms management, activity tracking, cashiering, and other important tasks, including: permitting and building, licensing, planning, public works, transportation, and more. Pittsburgh’s contract with Accela includes access to the Accela Land Management™ module of Accela Automation, which allows city departments to automate the hundreds of steps involved in completing a permit – including initial application, plan reviews, fee calculation and collection, inspections/investigations, sign-offs, and more. Pittsburgh also will leverage Accela Citizen Access™ to provide the public with the transparent, 24/7 online access that lies at the heart of Mayor Ravenstahl’s vision, giving residents and businesses a two-way view into the permitting process and the status of their applications. The city will further deploy Accela GIS™ for geographic representations of all land-use, zoning, and infrastructure information associated with a parcel, permit, inspection, or plan.
When the online transition is complete in 12 to 18 months, workers across multiple departments and related governmental agencies will be able to access “a single vision of the truth database,” as Ravenstahl calls it, to track the status of a myriad permitting, licensing and enforcement activities. The systems will calculate the permit fee, issue a tracking number for the applications, store related images and data, and forward to appropriate contacts for follow up on areas such as compliance with zoning, fire or occupancy codes.
“Innovative cities understand that their future success will hinge in part on their ability to draw and nurture business through open, transparent and efficient permitting and licensing processes,” said Maury Blackman, CEO and President of Accela. “By improving efficiencies and providing the public with more self-service options, permits that used to take weeks can be completed in just a few days – making businesses, residents and government workers more productive, and improving revenue flow. We’re pleased that Pittsburgh, as the nation’s host City for the G-20 summit in September, is depending on Accela to deliver a world-class sustainable solution.”
With a population of more than 330,000, Pittsburgh is the center of a metropolitan area exceeding 1.7 million. The City recently has received numerous accolades, including: best commercial real-estate market in America; most livable city in America; top 10 cities for job seekers; top 10 “up and coming” technology cities; top 10 cleanest cities in the world; and one of the safest cities in America. One of 25 Solar America Cities, Pittsburgh has also transformed itself into a green leader, with a 150-year history of energy innovation. This September, Pittsburgh will host the G20 summit. The G-20 brings together important industrial and emerging-market countries from all regions of the world. The leaders of the nations and organizations that comprise the G-20 will meet in Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the world’s first and largest gold LEED certified convention center.