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New Hosted Service Provides Cost Savings

Alameda streamlines operations while reducing city budgeted expenditures

The city of Alameda has earned the nickname, “Silicon Island,” due to the thriving high-tech firms in its modern business parks. In this new century incredible opportunity awaits the City with expansion and development. Alameda Point, site of the former Alameda Naval Air Station, is being converted to new residential neighborhoods,shopping districts, recreational facilities, and business parks.

The increased development and challenges of keeping up with Alameda’s progressive movements forward prompted Building Official Greg McFann to re-evaluate Alameda’s technology needs.

“We needed to find a system that will streamline our operations and provide us with some critical functionality such as on-line plan review and wireless inspection activities,” states McFann. “Further, it was very important that the total cost of ownership for this new solution would be affordable because like most cities, our budget is not limitless.”

The Challenge

Like most local governments, Alameda’s different departments operated independently. The city of Alameda’s Building Department has an ongoing commitment to conduct same day inspections for citizens and businesses. As the workload has increased with new development in the area, this commitment has become a difficult undertaking. Alameda needed a solution that could ensure timely delivery of government services.

Expansion. With the expansion in Alameda, it was necessary to find a system that could streamline processes and increase efficiency and at the same time, stabilize costs.

Multi-Departmental, Total Enterprise-wide Integration. Multiple departments dealing with various projects need to have access to the same information. In Alameda, the Building, Planning, Code Enforcement, Public Works, and Fire departments need access to the same information for inspection and planning activities. A system where information can be easily shared and accessed by all departments involved was a requirement.

Public Access. To increase productivity and save time for constituents, Alameda wanted to provide the public with access to accurate, easy-to-read information via the Internet. The system needed to allow the public to check application status, apply and receive permits, and schedule inspections on-line.

The Solution

After reviewing many systems, Alameda selected Accela’s Web-based solution, Accela Automation. In 2001, Alameda implemented the application for the Building, Planning, Code Enforcement, Public Works, and Fire departments.

The complete solution includes services such as integrated workflow management and Internet permitting. The system allows City departments to streamline operations and procedures for its permit and construction-related activities.

Alameda took full advantage of Accela Automation’s enterprise-wide capabilities—the City is using the Building, Planning, Fire, Public Works, and Code Enforcement modules in its Central Permit office. Each permit/application can be seen and processed by authorized personnel in other departments in order to expedite the permit/application process and better serve the City’s customers.

By choosing a hosted solution, Alameda eliminated the need for software installation, configuration, maintenance, and support. The City’s limited IT staff would not have to take on additional responsibilities to maintain the new system.

Because the system is Web-based, departments in different locations can connect to the system. The system also enables the City to add additional departments without the need to purchase additional systems. The only equipment needed to operate the solution is a PC with Internet connectivity.

Adopting system cuts costs. With Accela Automation in place, the IT department no longer needs to support third-party client software and software license fees are gone. The Web-based framework allows additional cost savings by extending the lifecycle of the City’s desktop infrastructure.

Departments share current data. The system is built with different levels of security, allowing the jurisdiction to predetermine which departments and citizens have access to information specific to a project. This includes tasks such as signing off inspections, reviewing plans, checking status on permits, and more.

Public access. VelocityHall is the public access gateway for Accela Automation, allowing public access (e.g. contractors) to permitting and licensing activities via the Internet. Contractors can easily apply and pay for a permit, schedule an inspection, or check the status of a permit. A quick link to Alameda’s VelocityHall site is located at

“We strive to provide world-class public service while increasing our own fiscal efficiency. VelocityHall is the first service we’ve seen that can really help us achieve that goal,” states Mc Fann.

No maintenance costs. With a hosted solution, Alameda removes all maintenance costs. All new releases are automatic with the option to pick and choose between the new features. In the case of a disaster such as an earthquake or bombing, no data will be lost.

The Bottom Line

By implementing the latest e-government technology, Alameda is in a great position to handle increased expansion and development.

Interested in learning more?
To learn more about the Accela Civic Platform and what it can do for your agency, please call us at (888) 722-2352 or fill out our simple online form.

Alameda seal

Alameda, CA


Approximately 15 miles east of San Francisco, California

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