As more governments recognize the power of cloud-based software to drive efficiency and streamline workflows, citizens are also seeing the positive effects of modern technology used in the public sector. Processes and systems that once relied upon manual procedures and sluggish paperwork are now being simplified and centralized, thanks to cloud technology developed specifically for governments. One example of this is OpenGov’s Permitting and Licensing solution, ViewPoint Cloud, which has transformed the way public sector agencies route, approve and issue permits to constituents.
We sat down for a webinar with two government representatives who are seeing the benefits of OpenGov’s Permitting to hear their perspective on the current state of permitting in their departments, what it used to be, and where it is headed in the future. Hosted by Carl Anderson, Senior Municipal Relationship Manager with OpenGov, the webinar featured Bharat Gami, Chief Building Official with the City of Stamford, CT, and Dan Ralley, Assistant City Manager for the City of Upper Arlington, OH.
Gami and Ralley shared personal experiences from their respective cities, detailing the challenges of their permitting process before implementing OpenGov and how the Permitting solution has positively impacted their organization.
Both speakers related the pains of manual permitting procedures relying on hard-copy forms and outdated practices. This dependence upon manual processes was a running theme shared between Gami and Ralley’s testimonies. Consequently, Stamford and Upper Arlington suffered from drawbacks such as:
Inter-organizational data and information siloing
Procedures based on paper applications and sluggish technology
Office admins continually bogged down with phone calls from the general public requesting permit application status updates
Lack of visibility and communication between departments involved in the approval process
With all of these issues ailing the city’s permitting process, Gami and Ralley looked for a better way to alleviate these strains that caused headaches for both citizens and government workers alike.
A Clear Solution
In their quest to find a complete end-to-end permitting solution, Gami and Ralley agreed that all the road signs consistently pointed toward OpenGov’s cloud-based Permitting software. The solution’s approachable interface and ease-of-use were clear indicators that this would be an improvement over the old manual paper-based processes that plagued the cities.
After implementing OpenGov’s Permitting, Gami and Ralley recognized obvious process efficiencies spreading throughout their respective organizations. These efficiencies included:
Visibility into the permitting process that never existed before, from both the perspective of citizens and government departments.
Dramatic time savings
Consolidated, simple and user-friendly interface requiring limited (if any) training
Clean and straightforward permit form creation
This level of approachability allowed Stamford and Upper Arlington to take one step closer to bridging the gap between citizens and government.
For more information on how OpenGov’s Permitting solution can bring efficiencies and process improvements to your government, and to hear the full discussion above, view the on-demand webinar.
Redwood City, CA and Boston, MA – September 5, 2019 – Today, OpenGov, the leader in enterprise cloud solutions for government, expands its market-leading platform with the acquisition of ViewPoint. ViewPoint Cloud – the industry’s fastest-growing and only multi-tenant SaaS software for permitting and licensing – will be integrated into The OpenGov Cloud™, broadening OpenGov’s reach and impact on the public sector.
“Governments deserve innovative and trusted technology to power how they operate and drive value to the residents they serve,” said OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman. “Not only are OpenGov and ViewPoint among the fastest-growing GovTech companies, we are each the only multi-tenant cloud platforms of scale in our respective categories. I could not be more excited for our joint future and to bring this incredible software to every government that wants to take advantage of it.”
“Governments deserve innovative and trusted technology to power how they operate and drive value to the residents they serve.”
OpenGov CEO, Zac Bookman
“I co-founded this company with the idea that governments deserve cutting-edge technology,” said ViewPoint CEO Nasser Hajo. “ViewPoint has since grown to become the cloud-based permitting and licensing market leader, stretching the boundaries of what’s possible to bring efficiency, transparency, and civic engagement to public agencies. OpenGov is the leading enterprise cloud software company in the GovTech sector, and we could not be more thrilled at the opportunity to join forces and continue building the technology that will power governments for decades to come.”
“I co-founded this company with the idea that governments deserve cutting-edge technology.”
ViewPoint CEO, Nasser Hajo
ViewPoint is OpenGov’s third announced acquisition since 2016. In October of 2017, OpenGov acquired Peak Democracy—the leader in citizen engagement technology. In April of 2016, OpenGov acquired Ontodia—the leading provider of open data solutions using CKAN, the premier open-source standard used by thousands of governments around the world. These solutions have since been integrated into The OpenGov Cloud™, which is now the premier, end-to-end Budgeting, Performance, Communications, and Reporting cloud solution for government.
This acquisition comes on the heels of OpenGov closing a $51 million Series D financing round led by experienced GovTech investors Weatherford Capital and 8VC, with participation from existing investor Andreessen Horowitz. The company has now raised more than $140 million from Andreessen Horowitz, 8VC, JC2 Ventures, Emerson Collective, and other top investors since its founding in 2012.
OpenGov is the leader in enterprise cloud solutions for government. The OpenGov Cloud™ is the only integrated cloud solution for budgeting, performance, communications and reporting. This multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”) solution connects stakeholders to the budget process, engages them for real-time feedback, accurately forecasts personnel costs, and integrates with key government systems, resulting in improved outcomes, enhanced internal efficiencies, and more time for strategic planning.
Over 2,000 public agencies use OpenGov—including the State of West Virginia; the State of Ohio; the City of Richmond, VA; and Lincoln NE. OpenGov was founded in 2012, and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Emerson Collective, 8VC, Thrive Capital, and Weatherford Capital.
ViewPoint Cloud is the fastest-growing and only multi-tenant SaaS software for permitting, licensing, and code enforcement operations. Built with the idea that local and state governments deserve the same design and technology standards as the private sector, ViewPoint Cloud provides next-generation permitting for forward-thinking governments. The all-in-one platform offers a seamless, user-friendly experience for public applicants, fully integrated with powerful workflow automation for department staff.
ViewPoint serves over 200 towns, cities, counties, and state agencies of all sizes from coast to coast and maintains a 98% customer retention rate over our 24 years of service.
It’s a daunting task because of the sheer number of components involved—cabinetry, counter tops, fixtures, appliances, electricity, and more—so homeowners spend a lot of time with contractors and designers thinking about the plan before they make any decisions, or purchases.
We want you to think about your community’s government technology strategy in the same holistic way.
Instead of purchasing a single software product, communities are now building technology product suites, designed to bring constituent services into the 21st century. This ambitious objective is more attainable than ever before thanks in large part to cloud-based integrations.
If you’re not a technical person, cloud integrations may sound intimidating. But chances are you’re probably already using them for many professional and personal purposes, such as logging in to social media.
What Does “Cloud Integration” Actually Mean?
Cloud integrations are systems of tools and technologies that connect various applications, systems, repositories, and IT environments for the exchange of data and processes. In other words, a network of distinct cloud-based software applications that can directly communicate with each other. Cloud integrations allow data to be shared across platforms with less manual effort.
When software-as-a-service (SaaS) boomed in the early 2000s, the development of cloud integrations was an inevitable next step. As more data and information was being captured, stored, and exchanged online, there was a need for these applications and systems to communicate with one another in order to avoid creating data silos or manual workflows.
In addition to the daily workflow benefits, integrations also allow teams to evaluate a wider array of software products and select the best ones for their needs, knowing that they can be seamlessly integrated with each other and existing systems.
What Are Some Examples of Common Integrations?
Depending on the purpose of the cloud software in question, this answer can vary widely. Within ViewPoint Cloud’s permitting platform, for example, the most common cloud integrations directly relate to the workflow steps associated with approving a permit or license application: GIS applications, financial systems, and reporting tools.
Here’s what this looks like in practice:
Reports: ViewPoint Cloud integrates with all major reporting packages. By automatically pulling data collected by ViewPoint Cloud into reports, public officials are able to save time while making more informed policy decisions.
Finance: When constituents pay for permits using ViewPoint Cloud’s public portals, the platform passes fee data along to a community’s existing financial software to access—no manual calculation required.
We’re continually looking for ways to simplify and automate integration procedures so governments can become more efficient, while still controlling their data and processes. Future integrations currently in the works include E-plan review, document management, and our very own application programming interface (API).
Understanding the Challenges and Benefits of Cloud Integrations
For governments constantly collecting and processing data, the benefits of cloud integrations outweigh the negatives. Data sharing among cloud-based applications makes information more uniform—improving connectivity, visibility, and ultimately optimizing business processes.
Increased integration abilities ensure that when accessing data online, different departments are always viewing the most up-to-date and synchronized version. By connecting applications together, previously complex and tedious workflows can be automated, which reduces both errors and operational costs in the long run.
For communities, having an internal understanding of data and systems architecture can greatly inform decisions about software procurement—and reduce complexity in the future.
Two Types of Cloud-Based Integrations
Now that you’re an expert on the integration basics, an important thing to note is that there are two distinct types of cloud-based integrations: real time and batch processing. Depending on the software you are evaluating, you might encounter one or both types in the future.
Real time means that there’s a direct process to an application programming interface (API), which is a set of clearly defined methods of communication between various software components. Simply put, APIs allow software applications to speak the same language. This is important for integrations because through communication, software systems can share information and work in tandem, sometimes automatically.
For example, ViewPoint Cloud interfaces with the ArcGIS API to render complex spatial visualizations for inspectors, assessors and other public officials to complete a variety of tasks, including optimizing inspection routes and reviewing active projects across the city.
Batch processing means that two databases are connected to each other and moving data around, usually with minimum human interaction. Integrations with financial software are an example of a batch processing as permit records, fee types, and user data captured through ViewPoint Cloud are regularly exported to the community’s financial reporting system for further analysis without any manual effort required by city officials.
Whether your community has just started the transition to online services, or you already have an entire suite of software products, a firm understanding of cloud integrations and systems architecture will ensure you are fully prepared to evaluate your existing technology strategy.
Why Should Local Governments Care?
Governments rely on mission-critical systems to provide services to constituents and run internal operations. From issuing permits to local businesses, to budgeting for new public works projects, government processes affect entire communities.
Historically, public-sector technology solutions have been created with a one-size-fits-all approach that can’t be modified or adjusted for communities’ respective needs without extensive consulting or exorbitant customization costs.
We believe that to create the best technology system, one that makes things easier for constituents and public servants, government purchasers must have the power of choice—and should be the driving force behind improving government technology. Cloud integrations make it possible to have a diverse set of tools and technology solutions at your disposal in a way that has never previously been possible.
Wondering how ViewPoint Cloud fits into your community’s software strategy?
The ViewPoint Cloud office has been ablaze with excitement as we near #ELGL19. For this year’s conference, we’re sending a first-time attendee, Tom Crosby, and we thought it would be fun to have him sit down with our resident ELGL veteran, Rachel Keyser, to chat about the upcoming event.
About Mariam Pallathucheril Mariam is a summer research fellow at CoProcure and a current MPA/MPP candidate at Columbia University (SIPA) and the Hertie School of Governance concentrating in Economic Policy and Technology. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Government from Georgetown University.
This article was authored by John Covey and originally published in the Alliance for Innovation’s Solutions Journal.
About John Covey Having worked in the technology field for the last 36 years, John currently serves as the Chief Information Officer in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. As a civic technologist, he supports ViewPoint in continuously improving ViewPoint Cloud, bringing modern permitting services to more forward-thinking local governments like the Town of Shrewsbury.
ViewPoint Government Solutions is excited to announce the opening of their new Los Angeles office. This move is a reflection of their continued growth in the govtech field of online permitting as well as the hotbed of forward-thinking governments in California and on the West Coast.
For the third year in a row, ViewPoint has been recognized as a leader in civic innovation by Government Technology in their annual GovTech100 list. The GovTech100 showcases the 100 leading companies focused on improving the state of government technology
Technology is driving major changes in building departments, introducing a whole new way to build our world. Two technologies in particular–cloud-based platforms for storing and sharing data and building information modeling (BIM)–promise to change not only the way construction projects are designed, but also the processes of building officials responsible for approving them. As a result of changing technologies, building officials will soon need to become more tech-savvy in order to take full advantage of the benefits that these new technologies bring.
Just a few months ago, my team and I were introduced to Kirsten Wyatt, Executive Director of ELGL. After a few emails back and forth, we knew the ELGL community was one ViewPoint had to be a part of. In no time, we found ourselves sharing content with each others’ subscribers and even planning a joint podcast featuring Dan Ralley of Upper Arlington, OH (another conference attendee!) on Customer Service & ePermitting.
Population: 93,000 State: Connecticut (Region) Municipalities Involved: 28 Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) Towns & Cities Problem Addressed: Updating legacy paper-based and outdated software systems Project Highlights: Regional IT procurement model, rapid implementation
With the recent additions of Hamden and Windsor Locks, ViewPoint now provides online permitting, licensing, and code enforcement solutions for 36 Connecticut communities. ViewPoint’s widespread success in Connecticut dates back over a decade, after joining forces with the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG). After selecting ViewPoint for a state-funded regional technology initiative, CRCOG has helped close to 30 of ViewPoint’s 36 Connecticut communities improve their internal operations and modernize their citizen services.
A little over a year ago, I wrote that Rhode Island was leading the nation with a pilot program launching the first statewide online permitting initiative in the U.S. Today, with eight municipalities and two state agencies on ViewPoint Cloud’s Azure-powered platform, Rhode Island is a model for how digital transformation can deliver better and more cost-effective citizen services, and cultivate a business-friendly environment.
For the second year in a row, members of the ViewPoint Cloud team attended the League of California Cities Annual Conference, hosted October 5-7th in sunny Long Beach, CA. They joined over 450 California cities and more than 1,600 municipal employees coming to learn about local government innovation.