The application of information technology (IT) to the filing for, processing and tracking of building permits is the most widely automated of any of the building codes administration and enforcement processes. Applications range from online permit application, processing and tracking that can be accessed 24/7/365 by clients with a computer to offline automated systems that are used only by the building code staff.
Electronic permitting reduces traditional permit application and processing times by 40 to 50 percent by making services available 24/7/365. Where the permitting database is connected to other jurisdiction databases such as zoning, licensing and tax department records, there are improvements in the overall efficiency of government staff and effectiveness of building codes administration.
Basic permitting software records and stores information in a database that can be used and updated by multiple building department personnel. These systems generally calculate the permit fee, provide a tracking number for the permit application and may also be linked to other databases within the jurisdiction that either perform some related aspect of the permit review (fire, zoning) or to ascertain whether or not the applicant has a valid contractors license, has any outstanding debts to the building department or other agencies, etc.
These systems can be accessed by telephone or online. Applications for permits may be submitted by fax or online. Online applications give jurisdictions the ability to collect fees via credit card or a prepaid funded account.
Some vendor systems are easy to modify to fit a jurisdiction’s existing permitting process and others are relatively inflexible and may require the jurisdiction to modify its permitting process. In general, jurisdictions are urged prior to incorporating IT into their programs to first review the effectiveness and efficiency of their existing building codes administration processes and where problems are identified streamline those processes first.
Depending on the size of a jurisdiction, stand alone software packages just for permit application, process and tracking can range in cost from $10,000 to $100,000. Component and integrated systems software packages can range from $100,000 to several million dollars in acquisition and installation cost.
City of Los Angeles, California – Online permit system reduced staff time to process permits from 1 hour to 5 minutes and customer wait time from 2 hours to 10 minutes. Contact: Steve Ikkanda, LADBS; Phone: 213-482-6715; email: email@example.com
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY – Online permit system reduced staff time from 2 hours to less than
30 minutes and customer wait time from 4 hours to 30 minutes. Contact: Paul Nicholson, LOUMetro;
Phone: 502-574-2986; email: Paul.firstname.lastname@example.org
Cobleskill, NY – Online permit system reduced staff time for residential permits from 1 hour to
15 minutes and customers wait time from 3 hours to less than 1 hour. Contact: Michael Piccolo,
Phone: 518-234-4661; email: Pecceo@midtel.net
The most common application of IT to building departments work is in the area of filing for, and processing and tracking building permits. Depending on the size of the jurisdiction and its desire to apply IT to other processes, electronic permit processes can range in cost from less than $10,000 to several million dollars. Over 40 national vendors provide such services, most specializing in some market niche largely based upon the size of the jurisdiction and whether or not other building department IT applications are requested by the jurisdiction.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: VISIT THE ALLIANCE’S WEBSITE AT: www.natlpartnerstreamline.org and click on “TOOLKIT.” On the TOOLKIT page, click on: ONLINE PERMIT APPLICATION, PROCESSING AND TRACKING for further details and list of jurisdictions and permitting vendors.