Over the past decade, state and local governments have expanded their digital government services, an effort that includes e-permitting systems, through which residents and businesses can go online to apply for, pay for and track the progress of their permit or license applications. Those e-permitting systems take advantage of opportunities offered by cloud computing and server technologies.
Besides fast processing times, the e-permitting system provides convenience and transparency. “When you apply at the municipal level, you connect automatically to the state, and you can process your permits through both at the same time,” says Elizabeth Tanner, director of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.
There are other advantages to e-permitting systems as well. They provide local and state governments with improved communication and speedy, simple access to current and historical information, says Sean Glasscock, the building inspector and deputy health officer for Claremont, N.H.
E-Permitting Streamlines Communications and Results for Residents
Instead of checking manually for expiring permits and then sending renewal letters, Claremont can now automatically send permit renewal notices via email, says Glasscock, who in early 2017 upgraded the city from a largely paper-based process to a cloud-based permit application hosted on Microsoft Azure.
“It’s made us more organized and helps immensely with workflow and communication,” he says.
As for information access, Salt Lake City inspectors can pull up permit applications on mobile platforms such as Apple iPad and iPhone devices while doing inspections, says Orion Goff, the city’s building services director.
The city also digitized its archives, which eliminated a 5,000-square-foot storage room. Now, if new homeowners want to see plans for a house when it was built or previously remodeled, employees can find those plans with a few mouse clicks rather than having to root through a storage room, Goff says.
“We used to have to go into a dark basement and try to find them on the shelf,” he recalls. “We used to pay overtime to frontline staff to chase stuff down.”