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Accela Insights

Better government through civic engagement

Can tech and government get along?

This article was originally posted on Bloomberg Government. Bloomberg Government regularly publishes insights, opinions and best practices from our community of senior leaders and decision makers. This column is written by Tim Woodbury, Director of Government Relations for Accela.  “Move fast and break things.” Silicon Valley’s approach to innovation coined by Mark Zuckerberg is disrupting industries once thought untouchable. In less than a decade, Uber and Lyft have upended the taxi industry; Airbnb has turned people’s homes into an attractive alternative to hotels; and drones are circling our skies in record numbers. These are just a few of the many technology-driven innovations promising to improve our lives and making the hearts of investors flutter. Yet, these market disrupters are also on a collision course with government regulators. Debates on how best to regulate these innovations are raging from the largest cities to the smallest towns. Even, the bastion of disruption, San Francisco, the hom......
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Why We Chose Accela Citizen Relationship Management

Guest Blog from City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts Our citizen reporting application wasn’t meeting our needs—it was outdated and cumbersome, and we needed a better tool. I spoke with my Business Development Executive, Ken Cutroneo, about what Accela could provide, and never imagined the possibilities! We were looking for a more robust, digital communications system that would simplify how residents submit requests, receive updates and access city information, and we wanted it to be easy and a time-saver for our staff to use as well. We found our answer in the Accela Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) solution. Implementation a breeze Once I started the process of building our requests, departments, users and workflows into the system, it became evident I could get to a very granular level. Our process was simple at first—take everything in the old system and ask departments if they wanted anything changed in the Accela one. Next came build......
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Why Trump's Infrastructure Plan Needs Regulatory Technology Reform First

This article was originally posted on Forbes.com. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska, frustrated by the “red tape” of regulatory bottlenecks, has made federal permitting reform a focus of both his legislative agenda and a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. The senator wants to limit new regulations, put a time limit on federal permit reviews, and create a “one-stop shop” for processing them as well. On these issues, Sullivan seems to have the ear of President Trump, as the president has moved swiftly with an executive order mandating that federal agencies repeal two regulations for every new one instituted. It’s not surprising that a hotel developer would be well acquainted with permitting delays and the impact regulatory reform could have on the success of his much-trumpeted infrastructure and jobs plans. In his victory speech last November, Trump said, “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure.” While Sullivan and the Trump Administration ......
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Top 3 Things to Know About the Civic Platform 9.0 Release

We are pleased to announce that our latest software release is now available – Civic Platform 9.0! With this release, we are delivering a number of customer-requested features to make your job quicker and easier. We think you’ll be particularly excited about the Civic Platform’s redesigned workflow, citizen payment updates and improvements to GIS mapping. 1. Redesigned workflow The biggest and most exciting change to the Civic Platform is the reimagined workflow. We continue to look for new ways to make you more efficient in your job, and in doing so, we completely redesigned the user interface and usability. The updates to the workflow user interface were made using Bootstrap, which is a sleek, intuitive and powerful framework for developing fast, responsive web pages which align with the new HTML interface that we are now using as well. The new UI is also responsive, so you no longer need to scroll left-......
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Legalize it? Regulate it!

Legalize it? Regulate it!
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 spect......
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Civic Insight Has Seen Major Product Enhancements

a1sx2_614_scrnshot1_20170119-190649_1.pngCivic 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 d......
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