Restoring building safety permitting services after Hurricane Ian: Technology promotes resiliency in Cape Coral, Fla.
In February 2022, the City of Cape Coral, Fla., launched EnerGov, an enterprise permitting and licensing software from Tyler Technologies, to support its permitting, licensing, and code enforcement activities. The city’s technology investments were made in response to processing an unprecedented annual volume of activity, including 5,000 single-family residential construction permits. The complexity of migrating historic records and the volume of new applications created significant hurdles when launching the new system. The city added staff and placed a temporary hold on the intake of applications to address a growing permit application backlog resulting in extended review times. Despite strong preparation and planning during the 37-month system implementation, the city faced significant post-go-live delays, which impacted its ability to meet expected service levels and provide predictable permit turnaround times for the community.
In May 2022, the city retained our government technology and operations consulting team to perform an assessment and deliver a roadmap for performing the necessary people, process, and technology changes to stabilize the EnerGov system. We conducted an initial assessment, including 40 stakeholder interviews in six departments, in addition to facilitating collaboration sessions to discuss lessons learned with another municipality that recently implemented the EnerGov solution.
With a goal of meeting service-level expectations, the city outlined the following objectives:
- Provide a positive online experience for customers using the citizen self-service portal.
- Increase permit processing speed for single-family residential new construction.
- Develop a permitting system optimization plan to measure customer success to expedite plan reviews and inspections while maintaining quality standards.
- Prioritize system changes to increase city capacity to manage and improve system performance.
Our recommendations featured a phased sequencing of system upgrades, process improvements, staffing/training development objectives, and specific plans to demonstrate responsiveness to meeting unprecedented demand for services.
The city started instituting these recommendations shortly before Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane with excessive winds and storm surges, made landfall in Florida, displacing residents and businesses. Immediately following Ian’s passage, city officials completed the first phase of system upgrades and system workflow changes to restore permitting services while responding to widespread utility outages and community devastation. Due to the extensive hurricane damage throughout the community, the recovery depended upon a stabilized permitting system that was responsive to fulfilling permit demands to support response efforts. Today, the city is meeting unprecedented demands for services with shorter turnaround times than those experienced by customers before to Ian’s arrival.