City Spotlight: Ventura, California

VenturaKnown for its beautiful harbors, parks, and beaches, the City of Ventura still lives up to its 18th century nickname as “the City of good fortune.”  This vibrant beach town of over 100,000 lies in between Malibu and Santa Barbara and overlooks the Santa Cruz Islands.

Behind every healthy city are good community development practices and efficient public services.  To this end, the City has overhauled its legacy land management system with the EnerGov system.  Since deployment, the City continues to increase efficiencies by centralizing data, streamlining processes, and improving inter-Departmental cooperation.  Significant returns on investment with this deployment include:

Improving Reporting Requirements: The City has improved upon its reporting abilities by leveraging the EnerGov enterprise data access model to ensure the proper information can be retrieved for informed decision making processes internally and constituent involvement externally.  One such benefit is for the building records disclosure report process within the City.  The current law mandates real estate sellers to request building records disclosure reports and provide this disclosure to respective buyers.  Today, these requests are managed as a case within EnerGov’s workflow model and citizens are now engaging City Hall from home, work, or any other remote location via fax or the internet.

Improving Processes:  EnerGov’s cross-departmental workflow model has enabled the City to incorporate all relative departments throughout the review cycle process.  For example, Ventura’s Water Department can easily access their distributed reviews, process the review, and quickly link to case attribute information, if needed, via a simplified, user-intuitive “My Reviews” dashboard.   Andrew Stuffler, the City’s Chief Building Official stated “The department is now able to confirm, with proper documentation, the sanitary and water utilities in new and altered buildings.  Additionally, all other departments have access to verify these updates and to perform their reviews concurrently.  Linear workflow models are being replaced with more efficient concurrent review models with the EnerGov system.”

Improving Citizen Engagement:   The City launched its first Citizen Access GIS based web portal, allowing constituents to spatially search and retrieve information regarding planning, building & safety, business licensing, and code enforcement cases from one common user interface.  With the convenience of these services, the city not only increases efficiencies but strengthens citizen participation and collaboration.  “Pairing Esri’s geographical information products with EnerGov system creates an effective tool for efficiency,” says Andrew Stuffler.  “Providing constituents and interested parties the necessary information without draining internal resources is a win-win for the City and the public. City GIS staff are making the most of this pairing by providing current deployment and business data in a user-friendly map-based interface that updates data automatically.” The maps that are currently available can be viewed here:  http://maps.cityofventura.net/menu/index.htm

The City of Ventura continues to build upon its historical foundation by implementing the EnerGov system.  Streamlining processes, creating transparency and citizen engagement are key initiatives for ensuring the City of Ventura remains sustainable, livable, safe and vibrant.

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Enterprise Automation Enables Effective Citizen Engagement

Long waits, confusion, and red tape are images that come to mind when dealing with many government agencies but with new technologies and enhanced automation, these stereotypes will soon disappear. By advocating and adopting web and mobile technology, government agencies are improving public service through increased access and transparency.

Unbeknownst to the average citizen,  the regulatory process of issuing permits and licenses can be extremely complex and layered.  Historically, most government agencies have required paperwork to be filled out on premise or delivered via mail through a courier. Subsequently, the completed application would pass through dozens (if not hundreds) of checks in order to meet required regulatory standards and conditions. This process often involves a multitude of departments and individuals each of whom are operating on disparate databases, and/or have separate “forms” for each department, with no central process workflow. Because of this, agencies end up wasting significant amounts of time and introduce significant errors – not to mention it may be weeks before the applicant hears back from the agency.

Citizen Engagement

This scenario was typical to the licensing and permitting process in Charleston County, South Carolina. To help manage the process more efficiently and improve citizen engagement, the county implemented the EnerGov 9 enterprise government software platform (Land Management and Licensing & Regulatory Suites) thereby enabling constituents to perform a variety of tasks from the convenience of their home or on the go — all managed within one centralized enterprise database that help the agency run smarter and more efficient.

Through an easy-to-use citizen access website, customers and contractors can pay for, apply for, and monitor the status of permits in addition to paying for and renewing licenses (over 13 billion dollars of gross reported revenues) . Other services include scheduling, searching and cancelling inspections and submitting citizen requests.

Within the first 10 months of deployment, the county issued over 44,000 permits and processed over 8,000 plan reviews, saving time and money for applicants working with the agency. By centralizing data, improving cross-departmental collaboration, and enforcing regulatory workflow, the county is able to process applications more quickly and accurately. Furthermore, within the first six months of deployment, the county collected over $150,000 in revenue that had slipped through the cracks under the previous software system.

Charleston County is a prime example of how, through investments in automation, government agencies can better connect with citizens and increase efficiencies within the permitting and licensing process.

Engaging Citizens with Social Media and Spatial Data using EnerGov Social IO’s

 

The advancement of automated technologies and social media has enabled government agencies to become more transparent and engaging with their constituents more than ever before.   First Lady Michelle Obama created her official Twitter account earlier this month and Vice President Joe Biden held his first Twitter interview yesterday.

State and local governments are also actively using Twitter to communicate with the public as well. Whether it’s to communicate emergency alerts, road conditions, or job opportunities, government agencies can effectively keep citizens updated and well-informed in real-time.

For instance, the City of Marco Island, Florida, one of the east coast’s most popular vacationing spots, uses EnerGov’s Social Intelligent Object Engine, or “Social IO’s”, with Esri Geographic Information System (GIS)  to proactively deliver real-time alerts related to community development through social media platforms as part of their automated business workflow.  Through EnerGov’s social media automation, a tweet from the city’s Building Services Division Twitter account, @Marcoisland_FL, is automatically generated to inform citizens of a new permit with links to additional permit information as well as a map or spatial view of the activity. By using social media as part of the permitting & development process, the city has taken transparency and constituent engagement to a new level.

Utilizing the EnerGov 9 platform, agencies can configure EnerGov’s social intelligent object engine as a way for government agencies to effectively communicate important news and alerts to the citizen they serve. Informing the public of road closures, traffic jams, parade routes, and construction projects are just some ways for government agencies to connect and effectively engage with the public utilizing this exciting new technology.

Read more about EnerGov’s other tools that help governments improve public services and citizen collaboration here:  http://www.energov.com/citizen-access.html