Local governments across the country are looking for ways to provide better digital citizen services. In September, Los Angeles launched a beautiful, user-friendly portal for small businesses, including resources and guidance around the permitting process. Many communities are following suit, realizing the growing importance of easy, efficient citizen services like user-friendly permitting.
However, as we saw with the LA business portal, not all cities have the software to integrate the front-end citizen experience with the back end system used by government officials. In this case, they designed the user portal separately from the permitting database, making integration too complicated and costly. For Los Angeles small businesses owners, this means they cannot actually apply online for many of the permits they need.
With ViewPoint Cloud, a fully integrated permitting system is not only possible, it is the default. The software is designed to do this. In this article, we’ll explore what this looks like in practice and what it means for the citizen experience.
Storefronts: The User-Friendly Permitting Portal
A Storefront is a ready-made template ViewPoint Cloud governments can use to customize their citizen-facing permitting portal. Storefronts are flexible, and can be organized differently depending on what makes most sense for the community.
After implementing ePermitting in just 90 days, Orange, Connecticut organized their Storefront by the six different city departments using ViewPoint Cloud.
A state leader in ePermitting, Wooster, Ohio organized their Storefront by different permit types.
ViewPoint Cloud customers have the freedom to design their permitting portal however will be most user-friendly for their constituents.
A Citizen-Centric Experience in Storefronts
Let’s take a look at an example Storefront in the “City of Template”–a fictional city and Storefront created for readers to experience ViewPoint Cloud software for themselves.
This Storefront is designed for a citizen who is completely new to the permitting process. Here applicants get the user-friendly design of a site like the Los Angeles Business Portal, but they can actually apply for their permits and licenses online.
Michael is a resident in Template, MA who wants to add a mother-in-law unit on his property. He has never applied for a permit before, and hopes to find application information online. After a quick search, he finds himself on the city’s permitting website (see below).
Because he’s completely new to permitting, Michael clicks on “How Do Permits Work?”
Here he learns:
- The purpose of permits
- What the permitting process looks like
- Answers to FAQs
Most importantly, he knows the next step in his process is to go to “How-to Permit Guides” and find the application and instructions for his project.
There Michael finds his specific project type – “Residential Building Expansion/Change of Use” – and clicks to begin the application process.
With one click, Michael learns what permit he needs for his home-construction project, what documents he needs to collect, and how to apply online.
He can begin applying on the spot, creating an account that allows him to save and return to his permit applications in Template (and any other community using ViewPoint Cloud). Michael immediately starts filling out the online building permit application below.
Through this online application he can:
- Enter all permit application data
- Upload construction plans and other required documentation
- Communicate with department officials
- Pay for his permits
- Print an issued permit
- Schedule an inspection
Michael begins his construction project without ever having to leave his home.
When departments provide efficient, user-friendly permitting, they are not only making their own lives easier, they are also giving residents greater faith and satisfaction in their local government.
This is what 21st century citizen services looks like.