In early 2020, municipalities throughout the country—and the world—were put in what felt like an untenable position. The entire workforce was asked overnight to do what seemed like the impossible: perform the same duties and provide the same services without going into the office. This is difficult enough for most professions. For city and government officials, their work became very difficult…and even more crucial.
Municipal and government workers needed to support and serve their constituents. Our client, the City of Garfield, New Jersey, was no different. With stakeholders and constituents still needing services, the staff would have to figure out innovative ways to serve them without being able to interact in person.
Garfield is a small community that doesn’t have quite the same budgetary resources of larger regional communities. The challenge Garfield officials faced was how they could continue to serve those local stakeholders remotely, and in a cost-effective way.
The Garfield Building Department’s office personnel suddenly were forced to work from home, joining the nation’s workforce in what is arguably the largest digital shift in the century.
Because they are the office that schedules and issues building permits, this created substantial challenges for the staff. Overall, the team was satisfied with the current software package they used to process and issue permits. However, that software could not be accessed online by staff, construction/trade professionals, and residents seeking permits.
Garfield was an existing Mitchell Humphrey & Co. client and familiar with our Government Software Solutions (GSS) suite of software applications. They were already aware of our success in helping small departments and municipalities accelerate digital adoption, including providing simple interfaces which can be accessed from any internet-enabled device.
The ask was straightforward: connect Building Department personnel with an online solution that enabled them to work remotely, interact with each other as well as the public, and process permit applications from the safety of their own homes.
When they introduced this problem to our team, we were happy to inform them that not only do we have the capacity to empower municipalities to process permits online, we’ve been doing it for quite some time.
Our FastTrackGov (FTG) software is a cloud-based enterprise platform that can be adopted quickly and scale seamlessly, with enough capacity to support the City’s current volume. FTG helps to automate and digitize the entire building permitting process, increasing transparency and convenience for stakeholders.
“It’s one thing for the team to start using Zoom to communicate with each other,” said Renee LaForge, Project Manager for the City. “It’s another to process complex and sometimes quite technical permits. Emailing permit packets back and forth is challenging for constituents and staff. Now, we have a central system where everything is stored digitally, and we can see any changes right away. The whole process was surprisingly cost-effective and fast, which is saying a lot considering those circumstances.”
Switching to FTG allowed the office team to stay safe and get their work done remotely. Not only that, the Garfield team accepts permit applications and processes them safely from our cloud-enabled platform.
Garfield is in process of implementing the FTG Citizen Portal, which will allow citizens 24/7 access to view the status of an application, allow building subcode permits to be submitted online, and make payments. This will result in not only the necessary digital acceleration mandated by COVID, but also in greater customer satisfaction and an improved working environment for the staff.
The City of Garfield has seen so much improved efficiency, our team is now implementing FTG in other City departments. Officials will soon launch the online citizen portal and online payment features to better serve their city’s residents.