The sight of new construction projects often inspires curiosity. A $14 million deal that the city of San Antonio reached with civic technology company Accela last month to revamp the city’s land management technology systems should take the mystery out of such projects for the public.
San Antonio’s Development Services Department Director Rod Sanchez explained that Accela’s software would streamline and make transparent a process that’s been consistently puzzling for city employees and citizens, StateScoop reports:
For years, the city’s siloed departments would frustrate not only private developers and contractors, but city officials, Sanchez said. Code enforcement officers working in the field would have to open several systems one at a time on their laptops to get the information they needed for inspections, he added.
“We each had these different systems for the various departments, some were old, some were new, and none of them would talk to each other,” Sanchez said.
Furthermore, the software will assist users in following everything from the early stages of zoning to the rezoning and redevelopment stages. As Sanchez said, this is to peel back the curtain and improve public access to information.
“We really want complete transparency,” he told StateScoop. “If a citizen is out in a neighborhood and sees work going on at the corner, maybe they’re wondering what’s getting built. Now they have better access to look things up and find out, ‘Oh, we’re getting a new convenience store.’”
As part of that transparency, Accela hopes to eventually deploy a “legislative management” platform that would grant the public access to all information city employees collect before board or commission votes pertaining to land. But first the city will collaborate with Accela on a 27-month technology integration process that will be rolled out in three parts.
“Land development planning will be first, done in 2016,” Sanchez said. “Then building permitting is next by mid-2017, then code enforcement will be ready by mid-2018.”