6 Ways Com Dev Departments Have Adapted During Covid
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Covid has caused many communities to change the way they do business. Your municipality has likely even implemented some of these items, but in case they haven't, here is a quick list of ways departments across the country have adapted.
1. Self-Service Kiosks
Self-service kiosks located at the front counter or in the lobby of a Community Development department reduces the amount of time the public is engaged face-to-face with staff. Kiosks can allow residents and contractors to research property history and perform common tasks such as applying for permits, making payments, scheduling inspections, etc.
While this approach cuts down on F2F time, it does require workstations to be routinely sanitized.
Self-service kiosks began to pop-up prior to Covid but were implemented more recently in some communities as one extra step toward keeping staff and the public safe. In communities where budgets are a little tighter, glass separators with external-facing monitors have become commonplace in order for department representatives to quickly and easily share information with customers at the counter. This can be a cheap alternative to full kiosks without the self-service benefit.
Kiosks don't have to be expensive. If your current software vendor already offers online access to your data you can simply set out a laptop with a security cable attached to it for a few hundred dollars and use guided-access software to keep the machine on the desired browser and site.
2. Video Inspections
Not all inspections can be performed remotely but some municipalities have allowed certain types of inspections to be. This is done using video services such as FaceTime, Skype, or even Zoom over a mobile phone or tablet. Remote inspections are still a bit rare across the board but we have seen these performed for low-risk follow-up inspections or routine inspections such as rental housing, most commonly.
Another method being deployed is utilizing online inspection request systems for contractors, landlords, and homeowners to 'self-inspect' and upload a picture along with the request. The inspector reviews the image, and if satisfactory the inspection is approved in the system, otherwise an onsite follow-up is scheduled.