The Valley Stream Village Construction Department has modernized its building permit application process to digital with streamlined, user-friendly software. Residents can now submit their building permit applications online through the village’s OpenGov website. The latest update was released in early November, similar to the Town of Hempstead after its software upgrade went live a year and a half ago.
For those new to the seemingly mundane world of building permit applications and assessments, anyone looking to renovate or construct a building on their property usually needs to apply for a building permit to ensure the project meets local standards. land use, zoning and construction. It could mean something as small as a new window on an extension to a house.
With this new website, gone are the days when residents had to go to the town hall to manually fill out and submit a carbon paper application. Gone, too, was the rather obscure rule that the village could only receive cash and checks to pay for building permit fees. Residents can now do everything online anytime, anywhere and make their payments by credit card.
Construction department supervisor Jen Piazza-Minori said the village’s old system ran on a traditional 1980s KVS server using physical hardware. This meant that if the physical server went down everything would stop and valuable information could have been lost, not to mention time. The latest upgrade made hardware failures a thing of the past by replacing the physical server with virtually hosted data storage in the cloud. The provider of the cloud-based business process management software is OpenGov, whose software has been used by more than a thousand state and local governments nationwide. OpenGov’s engineering teams perform constant system updates, according to Minori, to ensure information is stored securely and accessed efficiently.
During the review of the application, rather than waiting for a letter by post regarding the status of your application, applicants immediately receive an email notification. Virtual documentation is saved at each step of the process and made available to building officials and residents. This means home inspectors can log into the software, report on their iPad, and an email will immediately be sent to applicants notifying them of reports on their cases.
“It saves a lot of time. It’s easier for us. It’s easier for the resident because you can stay in constant communication with these guys through the comments, ”said Mohamed Azeez, village building inspector.
Inspectors and engineers can also annotate any commercial or residential construction plan submitted for review and return it for evaluation.
“So far everything has gone well… We now have a more streamlined workflow than before, but the volume [of applications] has increased significantly, ”said Minori. “Since November 3, we have received more than 100 online applications.
Minori worked closely with the Town of Hempstead, which was the first in Nassau County to integrate the new software. It was “chaotic” for Hempstead when the software was initially rolled out, according to Minori, who used the city’s hard-earned advice and recommendations to ensure a smoother technology transition for the village.
“A die [town’s] recommendations was to get historical property data on each registered account, ”Minori said. “We’re definitely going from paper to the web, so it’s a huge transition, and I ask the public to be patient.
Minori and her team will continue to review and transfer every actively filed paper application to an online account, which she says will take “some time.” The application software is currently only in English, but Minori is exploring the possibility of having the website translated into other languages to meet the needs of all residents.