STRATFORD — the southwestern Ontario community known for theatre and municipal innovation—recently replaced their legacy permitting system to address inefficiencies and improve service delivery.
They selected CityWide Permits, a web-based permit system that houses all permitting processes in one easy-to-use platform. Switching to e-permitting software has allowed Stratford’s building department to work efficiently, digitally, and remotely while improving customer service for residents and developers.
Manage all permitting needs in one system
Before launching its new permits system, the City of Stratford worked closely with PSD Citywide to carefully migrate fourteen years of legacy permit data from their previous system. Over 30,000 historical permits that spanned seventeen spreadsheets were imported into the CityWide Permits module.
Next, Stratford worked with PSD CityWide’s experienced consultants to analyze, define, and configure:
This level of customization allows Stratford’s building department to automatically capture all required inputs and outputs related to their building permitting process directly within the software. Stratford has a unique building inventory with many heritage properties, which required customizable permitting software to meet their needs. With a customized permit field created for heritage properties, staff can process these unique permit applications quickly, without fear of error. Further, staff have explained that having GIS mapping capability for their conservation and regulatory limits has been a key visual cue, again limiting the margin for error.
Save time and improve permit reporting
Jonathan DeWeerd, Chief Building Official for the City of Stratford and Kelsey Hammond, Municipal Building Official, explained that the reporting capabilities of CityWide Permits provides a considerable upgrade from their legacy system, allowing for more simplistic data manipulation. The City has been able to pull monthly reports for permits and customize the data to ensure they are getting the right information. The ability to turn permit types on and off is critical, allowing staff to get information on the
exact permit type needed.
Previously, if staff wanted to pull out specific data from their legacy system, like construction value, they had to perform a manual analysis as there was no ability to filter specific permit
types. What used to be a half-day manual process now takes only a couple of clicks with CityWide Permits. Because staff are able to use several report types built into the software, the need for manual manipulation of data has virtually disappeared, saving staff significant time and ensuring greater data accuracy.
Enable safe, remote, and connected municipal services
Given the current environment, contractors and residents alike would prefer to avoid coming into municipal offices to submit building permit applications. With e-permitting software, Stratford has enabled customers to easily submit applications online. The correct permit attribute data is automatically collected through the webform and the application can be processed efficiently by staff.
“E-permitting will be a game changer moving forward,
especially given the pandemic and the need for remote capabilities.”
– Jonathan DeWeerd, Chief Building Official
With a powerful mobile application, CityWide Permits has also allowed Stratford to move from paper-based inspection notes to having contractors upload their notes directly into the system while in the field. Switching to digital inspections will save Stratford approximately 50% of staff time.
Building department staff are now able to see notes uploaded in real time and print reports right from the software to send directly to contractors. These capabilities streamline processes, limit errors, and save the City a significant amount of time and costs.
“The system change has been a really positive experience for staff. We are noticing our processes are
a lot less time consuming and we are using less clicks and manual work to get the exact information we need.”
– Kelsey Hammond, Municipal Building Official III
Integrate systems for greater control
The City will continue to refine their approach and look to add capabilities to their system. The planning component of CityWide Permits is something that will be a critical next step. In addition, the City is looking at integrating the system with CityWide Maintenance Manager’s (CMMS) complaint functionality to further assist the by-law department. They will also work on the licensing component of the module, looking at using the system to issue specific licenses for bed and breakfasts, a large industry for the City, as well as trade licenses.
See for yourself!
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