Major Milestone for OpenGov Permitting & Licensing: The Journey to 500 Empowered Communities

OpenGov Permitting & Licensing recently hit a big milestone—the number of communities powering every permitting and licensing workflow has hit 500.

That’s over 500 municipalities where we’re having a direct impact on:

  • The local economy by streamlining fee collection and enabling safe, fast development
  • Public safety through swift and customizable code enforcement
  • Overall efficiency of operations by providing digital licensing systems and an online permit portal
  • Community trust by helping local governments enhance transparency in data sharing and improve accountability in their operations

“This milestone is not just about 500 customers. This is about 500 cities, towns, and counties that are now more effective and accountable through our partnership. We are incredibly proud of the work we’re doing to support these communities in their efforts to provide the best service delivery possible to their residents.”

Nasser Hajo, VP of Permitting & Licensing and Co-Founder of ViewPoint Government Solutions

How did we get to 500? Keep reading to find out.

Our Very First Customer

Of course, the journey to 500 customers starts with the first one.

OpenGov Permitting & Licensing was originally called ViewPoint Government Solutions. Back when Nasser Hajo, ViewPoint’s co-founder and now our VP of Permitting & Licensing, was first getting started, he had an auspicious meeting with a team from Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software.

The meeting took place in 2007. At the time, ViewPoint was the first software provider in the U.S. to create a live link between a permitting system (ViewPoint) and a live GIS web mapping service (Esri’s ArcGIS).

The live connection meant that permit records and GIS features could be linked on a map, showing accurate, up-to-date information on the status of permits throughout a city or county. The live link was revolutionary because it eliminated the need for cities to maintain separate GIS databases, which were cumbersome and inefficient.

Nasser and his team knew that locational data was key to government work. In fact, the majority of data that governments use is location-based. Whenever you call your local government, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is: Where are you located? In many cases, your answer will define everything that follows.

The Esri team was impressed by ViewPoint’s GIS integration, and soon mentioned it to leadership in a Connecticut town. The town was so excited by what it heard that Nasser was on a plane to do his first sales presentation the very next day.

The software was still in early stages of development, and he arrived at the presentation feeling somewhat nervous. They had been working on it for a long time, and now was the moment of truth—it was time to present the system to potential clients in local government.

Within 10 minutes of a planned 60 minute presentation, after seeing the GIS live link, the town’s Director of Planning interrupted.

“How much is it?” he asked.

He was in. And that town became the very first customer for the solution that would go on to become OpenGov Permitting & Licensing.

From there, things quickly snowballed. That Connecticut town was part of a regional Council of Governments, and when it shared the story about its new permitting software with its partner municipalities, they were eager to learn more.

Before long, four communities had signed on to pilot the software, then 10, then 31. Over the next few years, 65 communities in Connecticut and 110 in Massachusetts adopted the platform, and more are joining all the time.

Partnering with OpenGov to Support Even More Communities

The story about how ViewPoint got its first customer is important because it highlights one of our core values at OpenGov: Driving for customer impact to help create better communities.

ViewPoint had the same value. In developing permitting software for the public sector, company leadership started their thinking by identifying key pain points and inefficiencies in existing local government processes, and then finding solutions to them.

The need to maintain secondary GIS databases, constantly updating GIS data instead of pulling it in live, was a known pain point for the local governments Nasser had spoken with—so his team found a solution.

This kind of customer-focused drive aligns perfectly with OpenGov’s vision for how software partners should approach their work with the public sector. Instead of delivering one-size-fits-all systems made for other sectors and expecting municipal staff to adapt, OpenGov set out to create solutions tailor-made for the needs of local government.

This is all to say that, at OpenGov, mission and values are everything. And the same was true at ViewPoint. This shared focus made it an easy choice when OpenGov was looking to grow its reach to support even more communities by offering a solution for permitting and licensing. In 2019, OpenGov acquired ViewPoint, and it became OpenGov Permitting & Licensing.

Today, we are proud to be supporting over 500 communities in offering top-tier digital services throughout our nation.

The Future of OpenGov Permitting & Licensing

To continue driving for customer impact, we’re excited to share that we’ll soon be rolling out a completely updated version of OpenGov Permitting & Licensing.

This new version of the system represents our largest redesign ever, with major changes made to the user experience and the addition of several new features.

Throughout this work we have been guided by customer feedback, making this upcoming version truly a customer-first design, in keeping with our mission to constantly drive for customer impact.

One big change coming to the user experience is that the system will now be oriented horizontally instead of vertically, an update we made in response to input from several customers.

Here are some standout features you can look forward to in the new OpenGov Permitting & Licensing:

  • Record page refresh. Record pages will have an all-new design for an improved user experience.
  • Communication center. New customizable email templates will allow you to create email campaigns, edit and customize messages, and control granular elements in your communications with residents.
  • Plan review. The new plan review step type will allow you to use cyclical rounds of plan review, which repeat until plans are approved; do time tracking by department or round; and access a tab of formatted letters for Approval, Conditional Approval, and Corrections Required, as well as a template library of commonly used comments.
  • Custom record statuses. System admins will be able to create Custom Record Statuses to more accurately reflect the overall progress of a record, adding more system flexibility and helping applicants stay in the loop on their project’s progress.
  • Late fees. Now you’ll be able to create flat and recurring fees by leveraging data-specific criteria like due date, expiration date, payment date, and submission date.
  • Asset management integration. Automatically create tasks in the OpenGov Enterprise Asset Management system directly from the Permitting and Licensing suite , allowing you to improve the coordination of right-of-way permitting and support strategic CIP initiatives.

Want to learn more about how you can upgrade your digital services? Get a demo of OpenGov Permitting & Licensing now.

Categories: OpenGov Updates, Permitting, Licensing, & Code Enforcement, Thought Leadership