Oceanport Selects SDL Enterprise License

SOMERSET, NJ – April 18, 2019 –  The Borough of Oceanport, of Monmouth County, has recently selected the SDL Enterprise License for use throughout their municipality.  With the Enterprise License, Oceanport will have access to all platforms of the SDL Municipal Management Software, including SDL Desktop, SDL Mobile, SDL Portal and the SDL Citizen app.

At this time, Oceanport has opted to launch the SDL software within multiple departments throughout their municipality, including Clerk, Pet Licensing, Building and Code Enforcement. We are very happy to have Oceanport as a new client, and we look forward to working with them in the future and assisting with the implementation of their software.

Asbury Park Selects SDL Enterprise License

SOMERSET, NJ – April 17, 2019 –  The City of Asbury Park, of Monmouth County, has recently selected the SDL Enterprise License for use throughout their municipality.  With the Enterprise License, Asbury Park will have access to all features of the SDL Municipal Management Software, including SDL Desktop, SDL Mobile, SDL Portal and the SDL Citizen app.

Currently, Asbury Park has decided to implement the SDL software throughout a number of departments within their municipality, including Building, Code Enforcement, Land Use, Public Works and Fire Prevention. We are thrilled to have Asbury Park as a new client, and we look forward to working with them in the future.

Burlington Township Expands SDL Enterprise License as Shared Service with Burlington City

SOMERSET, NJ – April 9, 2019 –  Burlington Township, of Burlington County, has recently decided to expand their use of the SDL Municipal Management Software as a shared service with the City of Burlington Building Department. With this shared service, Burlington City’s Building Department will now also have the ability to access and utilize all platforms of the SDL Municipal Management Software, including SDL Desktop, SDL Mobile, SDL Portal and the SDL Citizen app.

Burlington Township has been an SDL client since 2018 and is currently utilizing the SDL Software within their Building, Code Enforcement, Land Use and Utilities departments.

We are very thrilled to begin working with Burlington City, through Burlington Township’s shared service, and we look forward to assisting with the launch of their software.

Paterson Selects SDL Enterprise License

SOMERSET, NJ – April 3, 2019 –  The City of Paterson, of Passaic County, has recently chosen the SDL Enterprise License for use within their municipality.  With the Enterprise License, Paterson will have the ability to access and utilize all platforms of the SDL Municipal Management Software, including SDL Desktop, SDL Mobile, SDL Portal and the SDL Citizen app.

Paterson will be implementing the SDL  Software within their Health Department. We are very thrilled to begin working with Paterson, and we look forward to assisting with the launch of their software.

2019 NJ-GMIS Technology Education Conference

SOMERSET, NJ – March 27, 2019 – Spatial Data Logic will be at the 2019 NJ-GMIS Technology Education Conference next week! If you plan on attending, be sure to stop by booth 1 to learn about some of our new software features.

This year’s conference is being held on Thursday, April 4th at The Palace at Somerset Park, from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm.

For more information on this year’s conference please visit the NJ-GMIS Website.

2019 Public Works Continuing Education Conference

SOMERSET, NJ – March 20, 2019 – Spatial Data Logic will be in Atlantic City next week! On Wednesday, March 27th and Thursday, March 28th, SDL will be exhibiting at the 2019 Public Works Continuing Education Conference, held at Bally’s. Be sure to stop by to see a demo of SDL’s new software features.

Conference Details:

When: Wednesday, March 26 – Thursday, March 28

Where: Bally’s, Atlantic City

For more information on this year’s Public Works Continuing Education Conference, you can visit the conference website.

2019 New Jersey Environmental Health Association Educational Conference and Exhibition

SOMERSET, NJ – February 21, 2019 – Spatial Data Logic will be exhibiting at the 2019 New Jersey Environmental Health Association Educational Conference and Exhibition.  Be sure to stop by and see us at booth 202 for a demo, and to learn what’s new with SDL!

This year’s NJEHA Educational Conference is being held at Tropicana Resort and Casino, Atlantic City, from Sunday, March 3rd through Tuesday, March 5th. You can find the full conference schedule here.

For more information regarding the 2019 conference, visit the New Jersey Environmental Health Association website.

Open Municipal Data, Part 2 – Going Mobile

Over the last several years, many businesses re-invented themselves to deliver the “Amazon experience”: a mobile phone app that enables transactions any time and from anywhere. Could a government benefit by doing the same?

That question was asked and answered years ago by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS was spending a fortune answering taxpayers’ phone calls[1] and had to save money. The goal was to let taxpayers get information without taking up employees’ time, and the vehicle was a mobile app called IRS2Go.

When IRS2Go launched in 2011, a lot of people downloaded and loved the app. Oddly, some who loved the app never actually used it. They simply appreciated the IRS’ offering free technology to make their lives easier. The IRS instituted a cost-control measure and wound up with both savings and a tremendous public relations coup.

Include All Your Residents

A municipal mobile app enables something fundamentally more important than cost savings and good PR. While it’s understood that mobile apps appeal to a generation who are most comfortable with those devices, it’s less apparent that other demographic groups are also better served. Some seniors never found reasons to purchase or use personal computers. Some households are budget-limited. However, almost everyone today has and can use a smartphone.

Figure 3 Not everyone uses a computer, but almost everyone has a cell phone

An IBM research project on the use of mobile apps in government[2] pointed out that citizens who don’t own computers feel underrepresented when a government offers online interaction. Offering your residents a connection via the ever-present smartphone gives access to a broader demographic cross-section of your constituents.

While online portals can be accessed from smartphones, a better solution is a mobile app specifically designed for the smaller screen. Citizens can report hazards, file and check OPRA requests (or avoid them by getting the information without filing an OPRA request) and check statuses from anywhere, and they can do it without requiring time from a municipal employee. A well-designed app can further streamline processes by taking advantage of built-in device features like cameras and mapping technology.

               Figure 4 – SDL Citizen Mobile App

In Summary

Using technology to connect citizens and governments is often assumed to be an expensive proposition with limited payback beyond the obvious morale or public relations boost.

Some municipal leaders don’t know they already own the technology needed to offer access, or assume that deployment requires custom software and lengthy integration projects. If you’re a municipal manager or administrator, an answer to mitigating public-access concerns, resource cost management and citizen outreach might just be waiting for you to give it the OK.

[1] NextGov.com, It Costs Taxpayers $41 Per Phone Call to IRS (http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2018/02/it-costs-taxpayers-41-phone-call-irs/145870/, 2018)

[2] Sukumar Ganapati, Using Mobile Apps in Government (Washington, DC, IBM Center for The Business of Government, 2015)

Open Municipal Data, Part 1 – Ease OPRA, Optimize Budgets

Letting citizens access municipal data sounds like a bad idea, but many of New Jersey’s municipalities have done it and realized a tremendous payoff for everyone involved: municipalities realize cost savings and increased revenue. Residents appreciate the convenience as well as other advantages. Most importantly, what sounds like a long-term project is often much more straightforward than you and your IT team think it is.

Managing Public Record requests

Last June’s NJMMA conference reminded us that OPRA is more of a concern than ever. The bulk of OPRA requestors (real estate agents, homeowners and contractors) would prefer instant, 24/7 online access from the comforts of home. When they gather public information themselves through a portal, staff can concentrate on less mundane work and avoid the “7-day liability clock” associated with OPRA.

One SDL Portal deployment resulted in:

  • A decrease (of more than 40%) in the number of weekly OPRA requests
  • A 30 – 40% decrease in foot traffic at municipal hall
  • A similar decrease in phone calls, many of which were permit status inquiries

For Residents with Privacy Concerns

Residents may applaud the portal’s convenience but balk when they realize property data is public. Many don’t know much about OPRA or public information. Once they do, they’ll appreciate the fact that portal information can be redacted.

Example: when real estate agents need to analyze property prices in a neighborhood, they don’t care about homeowners’ names. But if they file OPRA requests to get the numbers they also get the names. If your town opens a portal and decides to redact them, those names are less public than if your portal hadn’t been launched.

Figure 1 – To allay residents’ fears, portal information can be redacted

Advantages beyond OPRA

Municipalities who activated portals to ease OPRA burdens found other advantages by switching on other functions. Pet licenses can be processed and paid entirely online; citizens can apply for permits, schedule inspections, register concerns and more, all at their own convenience and minimizing the hours of staff time they occupy.

While online PDF forms are a step in the right direction, portal-hosted forms:

  • prevent mandatory fields from being skipped, saving several back-and-forth cycles before forms can be processed
  • enforce data types (i.e. you can’t enter “1/12/2019” in the “Last Name” field)
  • tie directly to workflow… pothole reports and permit applications can go to the right departments without someone having to read, process and forward them.
  • Let the user choose how to be notified (text, email, in-app notification) when a status changes

Figure 2 is an example; Morristown, NJ’s citizens can report issues and help themselves whether Town Hall is open or closed, without occupying staff-hours, and without waiting for someone to read and respond to a PDF form.

Figure 2 – SDL Portal (shared by permission of Morristown, NJ)

For Your Information Technology Team

Your IT team might assume the worst when this discussion comes up. In this case, “the worst” includes standing up a new web server, integrating and synchronizing separate data sets, etc. Fortunately, none of that is the case.

As an example, the various SDL system components (including the Portal) are already tied to a single data set. Changes are reflected throughout the system, with no external synchronization needed. Everything is built into the system and tied to the same data. In fact, if your town has upgraded its website to SDL Sites, all the Portal functionality is pre-integrated and even easier to launch.

Cost vs. Benefits

For SDL clients, the incremental cost of portal deployment is about zero (SDL Portal is included with an Enterprise license). But there are other fiscal impacts: when a revenue-generating process is easy, people are more likely to comply.

This became clear in March, 2018 when New Jersey eliminated some maintenance and minor work permit requirements. Follow-up interviews showed that citizens and contractors had never objected to the costs of the fees. They resented the hassle involved in paying them. The result was the elimination of a process that generated significant revenue for many communities. Even when the resolution is less drastic, some residents often see a difficult payment process as justification for non-compliance and therefore non-payment.

Summary

Portal deployments can drive positive impacts on municipal income, on your residents’ perception of government, and on your staff’s ability to keep up. It can be a scary-sounding proposition, but a little investigation often shows that there are both greater benefits and fewer disadvantages than you might have thought.

Part 2 of this post (Open Municipal Data: Part 2 – Going Mobile) explores how you can let your residents interface with government the same way they interface with everyone else… namely, with a mobile phone app.

2019 New Jersey Planning Conference

SOMERSET, NJ – January 21, 2019 – Spatial Data Logic will be in New Brunswick this week, exhibiting at the 2019 New Jersey Planning Conference. Be sure to stop by to see us if you’re planning on attending, and learn what’s new with SDL!

The conference is being co-hosted by the American Planning Association – New Jersey Chapter and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and will be held at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick on Thursday, January 24 and Friday, January 25. The full agenda for the New Jersey Planning Conference can be found here.

If you have not yet registered, you can still do so here. For more information regarding the conference, visit the New Jersey Planning Conference website.

1 2 3 33