Central Falls, RI Code Enforcement Clerk on Becoming a Lean Government with ePermitting
State: Rhode Island
Problem Addressed: Decentralized paper operations and inefficient communication
Project Highlights: Accessibility for employees and constituents
As a Senior Code Enforcement Clerk in Central Falls, RI, Venuz Zayas is a central hub for permitting activity. Day in, day out, she’s on the forefront of communications with government employees across departments and a slew of constituent applicants–and now, the bulk of her work is completed simply through her keyboard. Between applications, inspections, reporting, and more, Zayas has a lot to manage. With ViewPoint Cloud, all of the information she needs is at her fingertips. This easy access to information is one of the biggest changes Zayas has seen since moving from a paper permitting system to ePermitting with ViewPoint Cloud.
Facilitating Communications and Access to Information
“Things were pretty difficult before, and the information wasn’t always updated the way it is now. With ViewPoint Cloud, anyone here in the office can open the permit record and know the exact history and what’s going on with the properties,” Zayas explains.
Having an interface that clearly organizes all relevant information on a permit or a property into one place has been key to keeping the City of Central Falls on the same page. The City makes good use of the ability to upload documents attached to each specific permit so that anyone can see the plans, loaning decisions, and construction blueprints that go with each property.
ViewPoint Cloud’s capacity for internal communication also allows the staff—from code enforcement, to the fire department, to inspectors, and more— to input all of their notes and memos into the same place. Since operating with attachments and centralized communication, Zayas has seen productivity levels increase. What used to be a clunky back and forth between Zayas and the fire department, is now a string of notes and straightforward dissemination.
“My bosses and everybody, we can all share the same information. We’re all able to understand what transpired, at what time, with each project, and it’s very productive”
Better Serving the Community
This holistic view of what’s going on with permitting hasn’t just benefited internal operations; it’s translated to the customer experience as well. The public-facing storefront helps educate customers and simplify the application process, and when constituents do have questions, Zayas is better able to serve community members in each moment. Most people don’t have to come into City Hall anymore.
“Once the applicant sits down at home to fill out the application, the ePermitting platform tells them exactly what they need. They’re already educated on a lot of what’s to be done.”
When anyone does have a question or follow up, they’ll usually call into City Hall and after a few clicks in ViewPoint Cloud, Zayas is able to give them the whole story. The City also has a computer in the lobby for constituents who are less computer literate and want to be walked through the process. In these cases, Zayas and others can help the customers right then and there.
“The learning curve is small, because it’s very simple. They find it to not be as difficult as they thought,” Zayas explains. “So even people who aren’t used to computers, in five minutes, we get them going very easily. And then I explain to them how they can do it from their home, from their phones, just to keep their email and password.”
Becoming a Lean Government
From the start, Zayas was eager to have Central Falls launch ViewPoint Cloud for their permitting processes. The City was aiming to become a more lean government, which meant improved online services and better communication.
As part of the Rhode Island Statewide ePermitting Initiative, Zayas had seen other communities implement ViewPoint Cloud and she was keen on the potential upside of a new online system.
“They had started with ViewPoint Cloud in all these different cities and towns already, and when I heard we were next, I was very excited. I was waiting for this, for this moment to happen. The minute I was put to training, I loved it. It was the easiest, most effective way to go about doing permits. I’ve learned so much, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Zayas had initial hesitations around how ViewPoint Cloud would go over with other people, but she says that now that they’ve gone through all of the motions with the customers, with the staff, and between different offices, things have been great. Even if an obstacle does arise, Zayas notes that the ViewPoint Cloud support team is extremely responsive in resolving issues.
Increased and up-to-date communication alongside transparency and accessibility of information are definitely the biggest contributors to The City’s success. As for Zayas’s favorite feature, it’s Reports.
“I do what we call our monthly reports for electrical, for building, for plumbing, for all of those, and everything is all set up in the computer for each month. It would take me forever to do this before, and now it’s all in the system.”
For anyone in government who’s thinking about making a change to their permitting process, Zayas wants to emphasis how helpful ViewPoint Cloud has been for the building department operations, issuing permits, and reporting on inspections. Central Falls has found that not only does the software save them time, but more importantly, it helps them establish and develop better relationships with community members.