From Hardship Comes Hope for a Promising Future
In 2004, a Category 4 hurricane swept through Charlotte County, Florida, devastating its largest town. The challenge to rebuild was daunting. And to help get the community back on its feet, the County Development Agency looked for a solution to empower citizens and contractors while streamlining permitting, code enforcement and licensing. Accela provided that solution.
Prior to the hurricane, says Claire Jubb of the Charlotte County Community Development Department, “We were using a very basic permitting software system. It kept track of permits, but little else.” And even then, only basic permits such as electrical, mechanical, plumbing and residential.
But the storm brought with it a flood of complex issues. Code enforcement and other processes presented a serious problem and complaints poured in. Legacy permitting software limited Community Development’s ability to provide helpful information, leaving people in the dark about delays and adding to frustration over a less-than-transparent process. The public and the agency deserved better.
A BOON TO AGENCIES AND THE PUBLIC
After careful deliberation, Charlotte County chose the Accela Civic Platform, which offers solutions for permitting, planning, code enforcement, licensing and utilities.
With Accela, the County was able to streamline these key civic processes. By enabling field workers to leverage user-friendly mobile apps and by automating complicated workflow, the agency could focus more on serving their citizens and less on procedure.
Accela helped the County:
- Accelerate the permitting processes, saving valuable time and dollars
- Engage more productively with citizens and contractors
- Turn hurdles into handshakes and aid in the rapid rebuilding of the city
To keep up with the 1,500 permits and 500 code cases it turns around each month, the agency launched Accela Citizen Access, a public-facing web portal. This allowed citizens to post code-enforcement claims anonymously online, cutting the agency’s internal workload associated with this processing in half. Furthermore, with Accela Inspector, agency employees now have the visibility to clearly see every stage of the online permit workflow. Coupled with Accela Analytics, they can share detailed permit statistics with local contractors, revealing possible delays and roadblocks. Says Jubb, “This analysis really helped us identify training points [for contractor, and became a really good two-way conversation.” Which served to speed development in the County and begin recovery in the wake of the hurricane.
A CLEAR DEMONSTRATION OF PUBLIC VALUE
“The County relies on Accela and Accela GIS to help reduce flood insurance premiums, for itself and its citizens,” states Jubb. “That’s $6 million saved every year in our community because of what we do.” What’s more, everything is accessible online, making all the agency’s land management activities totally transparent. This allows Jubb to “pull layers and layers of information out [and that really demonstrates [to our public everything we’re doing in the flood plain.”
“Now,” she adds, “everything is spot-on.”