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Posted by on in Trends
We are entering a new era of innovation, disruption and change. The very “norms” of how we live, travel and use energy are changing. Some of these changes are technologically-driven; e.g. ride- and home-sharing platforms such as Uber and Airbnb, or solar panels and their next generation, solar roofs. And some are cultural shifts—ten years ago we were telling kids not to talk to strangers online or get into unknown cars. Today, we casually hop into the car of a stranger we are connected to through an app and trust they will take us to our desired destination. Emerging responses While the sharing economy provides convenience and progress for many, it can also be quite challenging for government agencies to navigate. Across the country, the fight to determine how or if these changes will take permanent hold in our society continues to be waged. In fact, governments swing wildly on the...
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Civic Insight, a cloud-based tool that measures, tracks and visualizes planning, permitting and code enforcement data, has been a part of the Accela family now for about a year. In that time, we have been working diligently to make the product even better for our users. We recently released Civic Insight 3.0, the most significant upgrade to Civic Insight since we first launched in 2012, and we want to tell you about all of the great new enhancements – many of which came about from user feedback and usage. Listening to feedback and working on moving the product forward resulted in the enhancement of two major features: 1) search and 2) analytics. Search The search bar is the most common way to find information in Civic Insight. Because it is used so frequently, we heard many great ideas of how it could be enhanced. In particular, most of our users wanted...
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Presidential politics has the tendency to drown out all other electoral storylines. If you're in need of proof, consider this: marijuana was legalized for either recreational or medical use in eight of nine states in which it was on the ballot, including the big one – California. Cannabis is now legal in some form in 28 out of 50 states, yet that headline has barely been discussed in the mainstream media. This is just one of several public policy issues that will challenge government officials in 2017. Another is the sharing economy. State and local government officials throughout the U.S. have been trying to figure out how to handle the rise of Airbnb and ridesharing services Lyft and Uber for some time. In San Francisco, Airbnb hosts are now required to register and pay fees to the city. But of the 7,000+ residents who rent out their homes, only a little over...
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I received an exciting email last week from David Riggs, NEHA President, reappointing me as NEHA’s Technology and Informatics Technical Advisor. NEHA (National Environmental Health Association), and its 5,000 work to advance the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all. Accela and NEHA are partnered in the Building Capacity initiative, a collaborative effort to elevate the environmental health profession through technology. I have held the position of Technical Advisor for several years and welcome the opportunity to serve again. In this capacity, I am responsible for providing subject-matter expertise and counsel on informatics to include software, GIS, and management applications to NEHA’s board of directors, staff, affiliates and members. As one of 26 Technical Advisors covering areas relevant to environmental health, I am called on to assist NEHA in identifying and sharing trends and needs of importance, as well as participate in a...
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After spending some time working closely with the Accela team, I wanted to formally introduce myself and let you know that in addition to Chairman of the Board, I have assumed the role of acting CEO at Accela. For more than 15 years, many of which were under the excellent leadership of Maury Blackman, Accela has established itself as the leader in delivering robust, government-centric solutions that drive efficiency and engagement for communities of all sizes. From my experience leading both private and public companies in the enterprise software and cloud spaces, Accela has reached a place where it is ready to catapult to the next level, and I’m humbled to be a part of it. I recently spoke with Government Technology about a new direction for Accela—one that I believe will steer the company into a future of even greater innovation—and I’d like to share my goals for Accela and...
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Posted by on in Events
Accela guest blogger and EfficientGov columnist, Derek Porter, reviews key learnings from the largest civic tech conference. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom addresses barriers to innovation. Accela Engage brings together more than 1,000 agency customers, government leaders, partners and Accela staff for the nation’s biggest civic technology conference. This week-long event is dedicated to focused learning on new and better ways to use civic tech to improve core processes and better engage with citizens. But it also engages government technology practitioners in building for success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. A New Vision for Civic Tech The top takeaway from this year’s conference in Los Angeles, Calif., was that civic tech innovations have helped us fundamentally shift the way we understand our world and our place in it. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom spoke passionately about: Cutting wasteful tech spending Breaking down barriers to transparency Connecting citizens to critical services These “three pillars”...
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When we started our pilot program with Tampa last year, our goal was simple: make it easy for contractors to work with government agencies on the permitting process. Through joint collaboration with the Tampa agency and the contractors they work with, Accela used interviews, prototypes and a fully functioning application to really try and address issues that slowed down the permitting process. The result is a streamlined Contractor Central application, available on iOS and Android, that works with contractors to make their day-to-day jobs easier. How this app idea came about As a company, our mission is to provide the tools that make being a citizen, a business owner and a government employee easier. When we looked at the issues plaguing contractor and government agency interaction, it became clear that there was no one solution for contractors to manage all of the daily tasks they have. Even if an agency has...
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With over three years working as an Applications Specialist for the Cape Cod Commission (CCC), Dave Sullivan has successfully implemented four different accounts on the Civic Platform. His charge is to look for ways to become more cost-effective and his agency is looking to leverage regional resources to do so. The CCC is transforming from a data collection agency to a value-add agency, using data to improve economic development. Have you attended Engage in the past?Yes, this will be my third Engage and my second one where I will be speaking. Last year I co-presented on using Accela and GIS to create an environmental determination (parcel) report. What things do you enjoy most about Engage?I have been able to go to Engage for all three years I have been involved with Cape Cod. And in fact, I joined the commission at the end of May, and went to my first Engage...
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Eddie Tejeda is the co-founder of Civic Insight, a solution that measures, tracks and visualizes permitting, code enforcement and planning data in a simple and easy-to-use interface, and is now a Senior Product Manager with Accela after joining the Accela family last fall. Allen Chen is the General Manager for Open Data. Eddie and Allen will be presenting product updates for Civic Insight, and Eddie will be presenting a second session with Tampa’s Melissa Chiong on the City’s implementation of Civic Insight. Have you attended Engage in the past?Eddie: I attended in 2013 and in 2014. It was great because, as a startup getting a lot of attention in the civic tech space and as someone in the developer program, it gave me a chance to meet customers and get to know the space. Allen: This is probably my 12th Engage in person and I supported the event before that. I...
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With nearly 20 years of public service experience, Jana Sanders guides the technological needs of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, where she serves as the Informatics Director. This is her first time presenting at Engage. What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?Learning new and innovative ways to leverage technology to promote community engagement utilizing Accela. What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?More in-depth features of the Accela Civic Platform and Accela Citizen Access that will aid in process improvement and strengthen communication both internally and externally. We are always looking for ways to better utilize Accela and technology to streamline processes and increase efficiencies, so I am eager to learn new tools and techniques. What are you presenting on this year at Engage?My session, “Providing Inspection Results to Citizens,” is about how the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health created an interactive website that...
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Doug Petroshius is the Assistant Village Manager for the Village of Lincolnwood, IL, where he has been since 2004. This year will be his first time attending Engage, and he’s looking forward to it! What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?I work for the Village of Lincolnwood, which has been a Springbrook customer since 2003. Recently with Accela’s acquisition of Springbrook (now Accela Finance and Administration) and Lincolnwood’s implementation of Accela Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) earlier this year (and recently executed contract for Accela Land and Licensing and Case Management), my community is investing in the Accela Civic Platform. I am looking forward to understanding more about the Accela approach to software and previewing other software systems. What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?The “big picture” outlook for Accela and their plan to merge them together into an enterprise system, specifically pertaining to Accela Finance and...
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Judy Steele is Deputy Director of Excise and License at the City and County of Denver, Colorado. She has been joining us at Engage for the last several years, and most recently introduced Denver’s Marijuana Licensing program at Engage 2015. What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?I enjoy the networking opportunity and I look forward to learning what has changed for jurisdictions and the new things they are doing. I always take away great ideas and strategies that others have implemented, and network for additional support throughout the next year. What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?I am particularly looking for information concerning hosted agencies and using the cloud. We are moving in that direction in the future. What are you presenting on this year at Engage?“Marijuana Licensing Using the Accela Civic Platform” and “Short-Term Rental (STR) Licensing in Denver.” What interested you about presenting at...
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Stan Reichert is IT Project Manager with the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He has been joining us at Engage for the past 10 years, and has been a frequent speaker and collaborator at this event. Have you attended Engage in the past?Yes, for about 10 years. If so, what things do you enjoy most about Engage?Connecting with other clients with similar interests and needs as well as solving common problems together. I also enjoy being able to meet with Accela staff face-to-face. What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?Learning about what is coming up in future versions of 8.0.x for Accela Land Management and Accela Licensing and Case Management. Also, seeing and understanding other clients’ experiences with Version 8 in regards to rolling it out – positive and negative. What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?Continuing to learn more about Version 8, seeing where electronic...
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Melissa Chiong is Business Programs Supervisor for the City of Tampa. Last year, she accepted the Open for Business Award on behalf of the City of Tampa for its work in providing a one-stop shop for citizens and contractors to get development services. This will be her second year attending and her first year presenting a breakout session. Have you attended Engage in the past?Yes, I attended last year for the first time. What do you enjoy most about Engage?I enjoyed meeting other agencies and hearing about their solutions, accomplishments and challenges. What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?I am looking forward to meeting more people and interacting with some of the customers and Accela staff that I have talked to over the phone and via email. I am also looking forward to seeing what’s new and what is on the product map for the future. What do you...
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I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Darryl Booth, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Accela Environmental Health, and ask him a few questions about Accela’s upcoming annual civic tech conference. Darryl joined Accela last year from Decade Software, where he served as President and worked with sales, marketing and product development to deliver high-quality environmental health software, and he continues his mission here at Accela. Have you attended Engage in the past?I was fortunate enough to attend Engage 2015 not long after joining Accela last July. What do you enjoy most about Engage?So many bright minds in local and regional governments together, sharing ideas and passion! From leaders speaking at the General Sessions, to hearing that leadership echoed in customers’ breakout sessions, I enjoy the variety of topics and challenges, as well as the thought leadership, represented at Engage. What are you most looking forward to at...
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Recently, Muhlenberg Township, Pennsylvania, launched Accela Citizen Relationship Management (formerly PublicStuff), expanding its use of the Accela Civic Platform – the Township also uses Accela Finance and Administration to manage its complex finance and accounting processes. Notably, the Township was able to launch Accela Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) in less than seven weeks. As a way to understand this successful launch, and hopefully provide lessons to those currently in the implementation stage (and others considering a CRM solution), I spoke with Joe Mench, Director of Information Technology for the Township. Like many IT officials in local government, Joe wears many hats. Not only is he responsible for IT planning, but he also serves as business analyst, strategist and designer for the Township. In bringing Accela CRM to his community, Joe was involved in the purchasing and implementation of the product. (He’s also a citizen user – he lives in Reading, Penn., another...
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The Accela Environmental Health team recently wrapped up the National Environmental Health Association’s Annual Education Conference (NEHA AEC) in San Antonio, Texas, home of the Alamo, the beautiful Riverwalk and Texas barbeque! We’re a longtime partner to NEHA and a regular at this event. It’s so great to see familiar faces and meet new leaders in environmental health. We talked with many visitors to our booth about how the right environmental health technology benefits business processes from the back office all the way out to the field. One concept I heard over and over again at this event by multiple NEHA leaders was an increased focus on how data and informatics are helping health departments improve productivity, efficiency and effectiveness; this sentiment was echoed by many of our visitors who are looking to leverage the best data management and reporting technology to allow them to focus on their work. This was...
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After a focused development cycle, Accela is making CivicPay available to customers starting today. Accela CivicPay is a secure, online and in-person modern payment platform created for government’s unique requirements. While other processors understand consumer and private sector requirements, they simply don’t communicate or understand government’s needs. The product addresses gaps in the market that other products currently don’t – namely, out-of-the-box integration with the Civic Platform solution stack. While CivicPay is packed with features, here are the top three things we think will be a welcome addition to your agency and most importantly your citizens’ experience: 1. Manage your payment reconciliation process and enable citizens to make and view payments in real time When looking at the current marketplace, we don’t see any straightforward solutions. Solving the challenge is a central tenet of CivicPay – we’ve made it simple for you to reconcile payments through our integrated Merchant Center. This...
Tagged in: CivicPay
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I’m pleased to announce that our latest Building Capacity column can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Health. Written by our own Darryl Booth (SVP/GM of Accela Environmental Health), this column covers a project we’re exceptionally proud of as it comes from one of our own clients, Seattle & King County Environmental Health in Seattle, Washington. The Department knew that there was growing interest in publishing health scores from local restaurants. But when leadership began to investigate placarding methods, they identified variations in the data underlying existing scoring systems that they didn’t feel they could ignore. Luckily, Seattle & King County doesn’t lack for bright minds. Food and Facilities Section Manager Becky Elias contacted Daniel Ho, a preeminent scholar of government data disclosure and administrative law at Stanford Law School. Together, Ms. Elias and Mr. Ho set up a randomized controlled trial to assess the effectiveness...
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With 91% of U.S. taxpayers e-filing more than 128 million federal returns in 2015, and almost 8 out of 10 businesses e-filing federal returns — an increase of 9% in the last year — citizens have come to expect online filing and payment options as the norm. Yet, many local governments haven’t made the switch to offering online options, or they have outdated online processes. Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of Accela Business Tax, the latest addition to our Finance and Administration solution for local governments. Accela Business Tax drastically improves outdated tax management processes, increases productivity across government agencies and brings the complexities of local business tax filings and payments to an easy-to-navigate online portal, giving cities and counties within certain states a customizable solution for tax filing and management. This new product provides a digital solution with an intuitive user experience, bringing a previously cumbersome process online. With Business...
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What would happen if you and your family were living paycheck to paycheck and you lost your job tomorrow? For more than half of all Americans, this is an all too real fear as they have less than a thousand dollars in the bank and little to no financial cushion should a catastrophic life event occur. Whether out of necessity or a desire for greater financial freedom, one of the modern marvels of the headline-grabbing sharing economy is that it provides citizens immediate access to income if they need it, and flexible work arrangements that can fit into complex lives. That is, if the right technology is in place to help them quickly. Perhaps you have a spare room that could be posted for availability on Airbnb. Or a car you could drive for Lyft or Uber. I would venture to say that many Americans have been reassured knowing that they...
Tagged in: Sharing Economy
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I’m excited to announce that registration is now open for Accela Engage 2016, the civic tech conference that brings together more than 1,000 customers, government leaders, business partners, thought leaders and Accela staff for a week of training, networking, inspiration and fun! The conference will be held August 21-26 at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, and attendees will have the opportunity to network, learn and build relationships with the best in the civic tech industry. We’ll have a record number of breakout sessions and training, as well as a number of networking events. Take a look at the agenda to see what’s in store. WHAT ATTENDEES HAVE TO SAY ABOUT ENGAGE “Accela Engage is a ‘must’ show because you get the most opportunity to meet with agencies, learn about the concepts and the product, and be trained in a very cost-effective way. In a short amount of time,...
Tagged in: Accela Engage
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People often take for granted the key public infrastructure and assets that keep our communities functioning. From traffic lights responsible for keeping rush hour traffic moving, to storm drains that capture rainwater that might otherwise flood our neighborhoods, infrastructure matters to our country, our economy, our quality of life and our communities. Hundreds of organizations are raising awareness about the need to invest in infrastructure locally and nationally in celebration of Infrastructure Week and National Public Works Week. I think many public works departments would agree that using the right technology and tools is the first step for effectively managing public infrastructure as cost-efficiently as possible to maximize long-term investment. So in honor of this week, I want to share four ways local, innovative governments can use (and are using) technology to extend the life of their infrastructure and enhance the efficacy of their work. 1. Consolidate multiple sources of data...
Tagged in: Asset Management
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A few weeks ago in New York City, government innovators from all over the country convened for the first ever “What Works Cities” Summit. What Works Cities (WWC) is an initiative of the Bloomberg Philanthropies that aims to bring open data and data analytics to 100 small and mid-sized American cities over the next several years. At the Summit, the first cohort of 27 cities came together for some presentations and practical advice from the leaders of a collection of organizations spearheading the WWC effort – the Center for Government Excellence, Results for America and the Sunlight Foundation. A number of the 27 cities currently taking part in the What Works Cities initiative are Accela customers and it is gratifying to see investment and energy focused on an area that we at Accela have long believed could bring tremendous benefits to state and local governments. In fact, bringing open data and...
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As the team here gets ready to open up registration next week for Accela Engage, I can’t help but think back on Accela Engage conferences of years past. I first attended Engage in 2013, only about six weeks after joining the company. I was impressed by the strong sense of community among attendees and Accela staff, something I hadn’t seen to such a degree at other companies’ conferences I’ve been to. Accela Engage has grown significantly in the past several years, and now brings together more than 1,000 customers, government leaders, business partners, thought leaders and Accela staff for a week of training, networking and inspiration. We’ll be returning to Los Angeles in 2016 for an event packed with more training, more breakout sessions and more chances to learn about the latest innovations than ever before. For many, this is the one time each year they get to really focus on...
Tagged in: Accela Engage
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South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual set of conferences and festivals staged in Austin, TX, that showcase original music, independent films and emerging technologies. The SXSW Interactive conference specifically is a breeding ground for new ideas and creative technologies, including a startup accelerator. 2016 marked the first year SXSW offered a government track, because rather than SXSW happening to the City of Austin, the organizers wanted it to happen in collaboration with the City of Austin. The organizers had the opinion that “Mayors need to embrace civic tech startups early, be part of the iterating, and help frame the issues to make it easier for companies to navigate the bureaucratic dark matter within their organizations.” The Mayor of the City of Austin and the City of Austin Innovation Office put out the following questions to civic tech startups across the country: How might startups and entrepreneurs help cities solve their...
Tagged in: Civic Insight SXSW
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I am pleased to welcome Mark Jung to the Accela Board of Directors as Chairman of the Board. Mark possesses an impressive track record that will serve him well in leading our Board of Directors, guiding Accela on best practices and helping to strategically align the company on its path for the future. Having held management and board positions at numerous public technology companies, he will bring nearly two decades of consumer and software expertise to Accela as we continue to develop core offerings for citizen engagement and interaction. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of DataXu, HackerRank, InMar and Pinnacle Foods. And even though he hails from the northeast (and is a hardcore Red Sox fan), he also sits on the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony and is a former member of the Management Board of Stanford Business School. Most recently, he served...
Tagged in: Company News
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While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the most populous state in New England, it is also packed full of very small communities, over half of which have under 10,000 residents (with 80 percent under 40,000). And the proportionally smaller budgets have traditionally kept the most advanced and capable technological solutions out of reach. Not any longer. Accela and zedIT have partnered to bring the Civic Platform to small towns in an affordable and quick fashion with rapid implementation packages, making the best in government modernization finally attainable to the small towns in the Commonwealth. With built-in industry best practices specific to the needs of Massachusetts towns, the Civic Platform includes support for emerging state-level initiatives to improve user experience and citizen service. Read the announcement....
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Accela has been barnstorming big cities in recent weeks, attending civic tech and open data events. Here’s a recap of several events that Accela has helped support in the first part of 2016. New York City School of Data New York City School of Data was held on international Open Data Day, joining New York with cities across the country and around the world to celebrate open data. The event also helped to commemorate the adoption of the city’s open data law. Over 260 people attended the event, which also included strong representation from young people and students that attending talks to learn about open data and getting involved with improving their neighborhoods. Accela was a sponsor of the event and I teamed up with City Councilperson Ben Kallos for a presentation on open source software, open data and open data standards. Philadelphia Democracy Hackathon In Philadelphia, an event was recently...
Tagged in: Open Data
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What if I told you that you could eliminate almost all the paper, and the associated costs, from the meeting process? From agenda creation to agreement finalization, you could streamline the entire meeting process from inside a single solution. Too good to be true? It’s not. We’re pleased to announce the integration of DocuSign’s eSignature tool into Agenda and Minutes, part of our Legislative Management solution. The digital portal introduces a secure, paperless signature capability that will help governments save time and money on the legislative process. Consider this: an Intellicap study found that the average savings per electronically signed document is $22.18 and the average turnaround time is reduced by 13.5 days (97%). When I say it’ll save you time and money, I’m not kidding. Get a handle on all the agreements and contracts your meeting process produces with eSignature capabilities. Even with the automation that comes with Agenda and Minutes,...
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