January 26, 2005 By Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor
What are the benefits of the city's Web applications, besides the obvious?
We don't have an overwhelming number of customers who pay their water bills online, but for some customers, that's a very critical opportunity and need that they have.
The real value for the balance of those 24,000 accounts is that the necessity to bring the service online caused us to do business process re-engineering, which is to go back and question all of our processes and procedures.
Bringing parking tickets and that type of enforcement activity online caused us to re-evaluate our entire process of parking enforcement. So it's much more efficient, costs less money for the city, we have a higher level of compliance -- all of those sorts of things -- as we've gone about redesigning what we do.
Talk about the IT effort that went into getting ready to host the 2002 Winter Olympics and the results.
We had to really rethink our IT. We moved very rapidly with technology, and quite frankly, we did pretty well at getting technology deployed. We kind of fell on our face in ensuring that we paid for it appropriately -- that we put policies, procedures and technology renewal in place as part of that. We had to reorganize the way we did business so the gains we made in the deployment of technology in the city were sustainable long term.
What's your biggest challenge upcoming?
Probably enterprise application integration. We've redone our business licensing structure. For the first time, we're going to license single-family and duplex rentals. That's going to increase our business licensing volume by about 40 percent.
We're coupling that with our new business license fees and disproportionate impact fees. There is a significantly greater usage for, say, public safety services from rental properties than from owner-occupied properties. So we've adjusted our licensing rates to reflect that.
We've launched our good landlord program. So if a landlord will take an eight-hour class and agree to some terms -- basic business practices that most rental management companies would do anyway -- essentially their increase in disproportionate business license fee will be credited to the landlords' properties. If they're not going to be good landlords, they pay a whole lot more than they used to.
In that context, here's the IT problem. I'm responsible now for taking data out of our water-billing systems, our police and fire records management systems, and our zoning enforcement and planning databases, and tying all that together in a way that we can verify compliance with our good landlord program.
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