December 19, 2019
Richmond has officially implemented the BS&A Community Development database module. This project grew out of public input and budget discussions in conjunction with the BS&A Financial module in 2018. Data gathering, client interviews, and process evaluation began this past May and continued in November with staff training and implementation. An investment of $121,830, city departments involved include: Infrastructure and Development, Code Enforcement, Fire, Finance,the Clerk’s Office, Law, and the Sanitation District.
As a property-based database, all information centers on physical addresses. We began with a connection to the County’s GIS (Geographic Information System). This involved importing property record details, such as owner, assessed value, and zoning information, into our system, which eliminates any manual entry of property information. Instead, the database acts as a searchable index of properties within the city limits and 2-mile fringe. This collaboration with our partners at the County will reduce errors, increase efficiency, and will allow for more seamless internal and external communication.
While basic property information is the backbone of the system, cross-departmental data related to permits, inspections, zoning processes, code violations, contractor licensing, and more is the heart. Each property record will layer previously siloed information related to development and violations, which will enable better internal collaboration and external communication, as well as, more effective and efficient strategic planning and reporting.
To increase transparency and enhance our customer service, a critical component of the database is a service-providing website. Service areas include a public records search, building department services, and a citizens’ request for action tool.
Public Records Search: Search property records and view corresponding permits, violations, and any associated attachments.
Building Department: Apply for permits and schedule inspections, as a homeowner or contractor.
Citizens’ Request: Report violations and find city information with a click of a button. This tool is geared to make active citizenship a little easier.
The project is a testament to the city’s commitment to investing in data transparency while prioritizing improvements to customer service and communication. According to Mayor Snow, “Implementing this new interface with our citizens is the result of years of listening to and collaborating with our public to both enhance efficiency and expedite working with the city of Richmond.” The information collected and services provided will provide the foundation for building a brighter future for Richmond.
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