In a few months, Island County residents will be able to track their permit applications online. In roughly six months, residents will be able to complete the applications online as well.
Island County staff members started training this week on SmartGov, a new browser-based software that the public should have round-the-clock access to in about three months, according to Planning Director David Wechner.
Currently permit applications must be made at the Coupeville or Camano Island county offices in person and by appointment.
“For Camano and anyone who lives in a far-flung part of the county, this is a good thing,” Wechner said.
SmartGov is an upgraded version of the software currently used by the county called Interlocking. Wechner said the county purchased Interlocking at the end of its support life in 2011 with the upgrade to SmartGov in mind. The cost of the software and training will cost the county roughly $24,000.
In addition to permit application and tracking, the public will be able to request inspections and download documents. The software contains a GIS mapping component as well.
“You’ll be able to open a map, click on a permit and see what’s going on,” Wechner said.
Elements of public works and public health department services will also be trackable online by staff and the public.
The intention is to improve efficiency allowing staff to more easily create permit documents, make notes on each application and populate “to-do lists” for inspections and application tasks, Wechner said.
“What it’s going to allow is better tracking of permits as they come into the system,” Wechner said. “The reporting functions are better than what we have now.”
Commissioner Helen Price Johnson has been a proponent of the new software to better address the county’s permit work load.
“The county needs to get better in this area,” Price Johnson said. “It is my goal for the county to improve the current process for permit review to make it both more effective and efficient in use of county staff time, and make the process more predictable, transparent and customer service-oriented for our community.”
At recent discussions about re-opening county offices on Fridays, Price Johnson has mentioned that the SmartGov software will address some of the workload bottleneck and be a key component in making that possible.
“Opening on Fridays without these improvements could have the opposite effect, and negatively impact the current permit review process,” Price Johnson said. “SmartGov is an important investment because it creates an improved platform for the county’s permit processing.”