Case Study

Leaders Are Made During Crisis: 3 Ways Danbury, Connecticut’s Permitting, Licensing, and Code Enforcement Teams Display Heroics

Leaders Are Made During Crisis

When COVID-19 hit, Danbury Connecticut was three months into using OpenGov Citizen Services. Because critical departments were already using Citizen Services, they were able to proactively develop a safe reopening workflow, connecting: Planning and Zoning, Heath and Human Services, Building and the Fire Marshal.

“We are grateful we had all key departments integrated and working on a single application so we could keep our city on track through COVID and accelerate reopening safely,” says Sean Hearty, Director of Permit Coordination and Zoning Enforcement Officer

With OpenGov, Danbury was able to move quickly and with agility to meet its community’s needs as the state reopened.

 

1. ‘We reopened 24 restaurants on day-one’

Under a statewide executive order, Connecticut municipalities are expediting changes to zoning rules and other ordinances to expand outdoor dining. The order requires them to review, process, and inspect within 10 days or a permit is automatically approved.

Teams across Danbury’s key departments worked proactively over the span of multiple calls to create guiding documents and workflows to enable reopening. Their intent was to be simple for the applicant, but rigorous on the back end.

“Restaurants needed only to fill out a single form, and they could draw a picture on a cocktail napkin of where the seating would be. On the back end we map it via our GIS/Citizen Services integration, and move the permit through all key departments for approval, considering elements like sanitation and food service (e.g., restroom queue details and prep station layouts), zoning, and fire and safety. We reopened 24 restaurants on day-one, and we did it safely.”

Population
84730

Agency Type
City

Annual Budget
$261.5 Million

Role
Community Development
IT

Region
East

Solution
Citizen Services

Customer Results

Reopened 24 restaurants on day-one

Single form application for reopening businesses

GIS integration enables “cocktail-napkin sketch” submissions

Permit cadence maintained even with COVID-19

 

2. ‘We are processing faster even while working remotely’

Currently, Danbury has approved 40 out of the 60 permits in the system, pointing to a level of efficiency that many cities aspire to under normal circumstances. But being fast was only part of Danbury’s ambitious goal for permitting, licensing, and code enforcement, being helpful and keeping people safe are core to their mission.

 

“Our goal with residential permitting was to make it as simple as possible and to make our input valuable so people weren’t doing work on their own. We don’t just say no and walk away, but rather suggest another, better, safer way to do the work. We aren’t McDonald’s — you can’t always have it your way — but we’re going to make it worth it for you to work with our permitting team to make sure you aren’t building your deck over your septic.”
Sean Hearty, Director of Permit Coordination and Zoning Enforcement Officer, Danbury, CT

 

3. The City was prepared pre-crisis

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the best time to adopt cloud-based, mission-critical software was last year, which Danbury did. With OpenGov Danbury had the platform and process in place for virtual permitting and licensing when COVID-19 hit.

“If we didn’t go live in November, replacing our ‘green screen system’, nobody could get access outside of their office desktop. City Hall was still closed when reopening began, and teams have been working remotely since March 19, but we have not skipped a beat. We were already doing great work as a team before COVID, but OpenGov kicked us over the moon.”

 

 

Capabilities Ensuring Danbury’s Success:

  • OpenGov Citizen Services is built for community development
  • Danbury’s departments were already integrating workflows using the application when COVID-19 hit
  • GIS integration enables remote permitting
  • Key departments were already connected and collaborating across workflows via Citizen Services

 

New and Upcoming OpenGov Citizen Services capabilities:

  1. If your permitting team commits to time-bound workflow steps, Citizen Services ensures that you stay on schedule by moving the permit to the next step in the process automatically.
  2. If you work for a permitting department that charges a fee for permitting each plumbing or electrical fixture, OpenGov’s new calculated field sum and multi-entry form makes it easy to tally a project’s total cost.
  3. If you collaborate across departments, shared dashboards pull data into a centralized place for everyone to see performance against goals. Cities and towns can even track COVID-related costs incurred by their health department for reimbursements using reporting.

 

About Danbury, CT

The City of Danbury’s mission is to ensure a superior quality of life for its citizens by providing the most cost effective municipal services while preserving the cultural, historical and natural resources of the city. The city prides itself as a premier place to live, work, and raise a family in a traditional yet progressive community.

 

Solution

Citizen Services

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