Accela, well into a push to position itself as a go-to resource for local government regulation, is launching “out-of-the-box” software products for two industries that have become rapidly more important in recent years: marijuana sales and short-term rentals.
The products fall pretty squarely into Accela’s foundation, which is permitting and licensing functionality. Using the products, a government office can accept applications, track the processing, manage inspections and look up maps of marijuana businesses or people participating in short-term rental services like Airbnb.
The idea with out-of-the-box solutions is to offer them fast, as opposed to more complex customized software.
“We are seeing local and state governments experience a tough time regulating new innovations and industries driven by technological change,” said Accela Chief Executive Officer Ed Daihl in a press release. “Many of these hard-working agencies are finding answers in collaboration, both internally and with the public and stakeholders. Our new, scalable SaaS products, with cloud-based data storage, provide governments with clear solutions to two major challenges they face today and improve transparency to help prepare them for whatever regulatory issues come next.”
Both short-term rentals and marijuana are looming issues for local government in the U.S. Airbnb, the most visible short-term rental service, had a habit of doubling its bookings every year from 2009 to 2017, according to Reuters. And marijuana, long legal for medical purposes in many states, is in the midst of a wave of legalization for recreational purposes as well. Eight states have legalized commercial sales, Vermont and Washington, D.C., have decriminalized and may regulate sales in the future, and several more are facing legislative and ballot initiative legalization efforts in the next year.
Both industries also pose a number of challenges for local government: How does a city collect taxes on short-term rentals? How does it make sure they are safe for visitors? How does a city handle a sudden influx of applications for marijuana business licenses after a state votes for legalization? How does it deal with the increased inspection needs?
Accela has dug itself into those concerns. It launched a “Center of Expertise” in January meant to help government navigate tricky regulatory areas, including marijuana.
The company’s two products will be part of a new group of offerings called the Civic Applications suite.