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US Council enhancing building development using EzeScan
EzeScan permits Major US Council to enhance building development services
More efficient permit management enabled by EzeScan’s advanced scanning solutions
Large number of developments
With a population of over 500,000, this local US council is one of the most populous cities in the region.
With an estimated 50 years of growth within its boundary, the Council oversees an overall increase in both housing and business developments. The Council’s Planning Department, not only reviews land use and ensures compliance with construction standards, but also issues a wide range of documentation, including building and utilities permits and structural plans.
A lot of this documentation is historical, the Business Systems Analyst within planning explained: “We have building permit applications and house plans dating back to the turn of the previous century, much of it archived on microfiche cards. If someone is looking for the original plans of a house, or wants to see all the permits that have been issued on a property, our job is to find and retrieve them.”
Scanning permit documentation
In addition to managing 600,000 microfiche pages of historical data, the Council wanted to find a more efficient and cost effective way to manage the processes around issuing new permits, for which there are thousands of applications per year.
In January of 2012, the Council engaged Kapish USA, a third-party consulting firm, to advise on moving away from using microfiche. “They recommended deploying high-end scanners and EzeScan scanning software to enable us to scan issued permits and store the resulting (Adobe Acrobat) PDF image files in our HP TRIM electronic document management system,” “The intention was to make these electronic documents available in our permit tracking system.”
As well as being used by internal staff, permit applicants can use the permit tracking system to chart a permit’s progress through the whole process by logging on to one of the Council’s public access computers. “All the steps in the process, from application through final inspection, can be viewed and tracked,” “You can even print a copy of your permit.”
The Council has deployed EzeScan in the planning department as a front-end scanning solution for the TRIM system. “Integration with TRIM was absolutely essential in terms of our selection of a scanning software solution. EzeScan offered this right out of the box. We need to scan a wide range of material for building permits, including blueprints, site plans and engineering plans. EzeScan made this easy because it can handle a wide range of formats.”
He added: “Permit applications can be highly complex. We need to be able to manage multiple types of permits - for building permits, for example, we need seamless collaboration between multiple departments such as building and planning. When a permit is issued, users typically have paper documents that need to be preserved for archival purposes. The Council’s workflow is to have those users create a coversheet in the permit tracking system which can be used in EzeScan. These coversheets can be attached to the plans and physically routed to the scanning department. EzeScan makes it all so straightforward.”
The Council is impressed with EzeScan’s flexibility. “We looked at a rival solution, but we didn’t like a pay-per-scan pricing model. EzeScan provided us with a demo licence for one month to see how the solution worked within one of our workgroups. That went really well, so we decided to go for a phased roll-out, adding another seven groups to the system. Today, we’re scanning and creating up to 100 PDFs consisting of two or more pages out of EzeScan.”
He added: “EzeScan really came to rescue and went above the call of duty by piecing together a flawless scanning solution for us. The software is very customisable, and works with our various line-of-business systems. EzeScan also co-ordinated with scanner vendors to ensure we have a fully integrated hardware and software solution.”
Cutting costs by half
The ROI also impressed. “EzeScan has saved us a vast amount of time and money. We were spending around $400,000 a year on microfiche, we are now spending $200,000 a year, so we cut our costs by half. We have also reduced storage space and costs, as well as the time and effort of searching manually for documents relating to permit applications.
“We just click on EzeScan and the document is there, we don’t have to scroll through miles of microfiche.”
He concluded: “The success of the EzeScan project has become evident across the Council. Other bureaux are watching us, we’re really the ‘guinea pigs’ for paperless processes.”.
The Council is now planning for extra EzeScan licences to add even more efficiency within the organisation.