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A quiet community close to Rhode Island’s northern border, the Town of North Smithfield has a population of just over 12,000 residents. They are part of Rhode Island’s statewide ePermitting initiative–the first of it’s kind to implement the same permitting software in state and local levels at the same time.
After seeing neighboring communities make the switch to ePermitting, North Smithfield decided to evaluate available software that would simplify internal operations and increase efficiency with permitting approvals.
OpenGov Citizen Services
North Smithfield’s Building Department knew they needed a modern ePermitting system. Their old paper permitting and manual data entry were no longer efficient enough to keep up with the rising bar of local government citizen service, but they were still nervous about the time it would take to get the software up and running. For North Smithfield, the entire purpose of ePermitting software was to make their processes more efficient. They needed something that wouldn’t weigh them down with a long, complicated setup.
All the pieces fell into place with OpenGov Citizen Services because of its user-friendly software design, and the team’s proven implementation process, which helped them avoid hiring coders, engaging in complicated employee training, and other delays. The new system was quickly approved by the North Smithfield Town Council, who saw how OpenGov Citizen Services would make citizen services more efficient, accurate, and easy to use.
Rhode Island launched a statewide ePermitting initiative in 2014 to improve transparency,
consistency, accountability, and convenience for residents and local governments.
Their team also approached implementation with an agile framework—starting with one department first before slowly bringing permitting online in other departments as well. Shawn Selleck, Project Manager with Rhode Island’s Office of Digital Excellence, worked with North Smithfield Building Department Officials and OpenGov’s support staff across the record breaking launch. “I don’t think it’s overstating the reality to say that this implementation should be a model not only for permitting implementation, but for technology as a whole in a collaborative nature among different levels of government,” says Sellak.
“The majority of contractors and applicants began using our public portal before we even announced it. The day we went live people were able to complete applications with no assistance at all.”
Teresa Graham, Town Clerk, North Smithfield, RI
This online portal allows residents in the Town of North Smithfield, RI to conveniently apply and pay
for more than eight different permit types without leaving home or mailing paper forms.
After just one month, North Smithfield’s Building Department was accepting online applications for permits and licenses. Through OpenGov Citizen Services’ customizable storefront, the public can now visit their website and apply from home, or apply on a computer in the Building Department Office. In the first week after going live the Building Department had already received 31 online applications–keeping up with their regular intake and speeding up their review and approval processes.
“Ultimately the value of [OpenGov Citizen Services] is in the accuracy of recording—the timeliness of being able to identify what information we have or we don’t have. Personally I think this is going to save a whole lot of time when it comes to recording [and] tracking.”
Jason Parmelee, Finance Director, North Smithfield, RI
Through Rhode Island’s Statewide ePermitting Initiative, North Smithfield and communities across Rhode Island are showing their commitment to outstanding public service, while simultaneously modernizing the software tools they use to efficiently accept, review, and approve constituent applications. They know that 21st century citizen service means world-class technology that makes government more efficient and accessible to the public. OpenGov is proud to partner with local government leaders like North Smithfield, who are setting an example for government innovation across the country.
“My experience working with the OpenGov team has been very positive. The support and openness to hear our proposals has always been there, and they deliver on their promises for addressing issues and building additional functionality.”
Shawn Selleck, Project Manager, Office of Digital Excellence, Rhode Island
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