April 15, 2010 By Russell Nichols
The old permitting system in Catawba County, N.C., had been the foundation of the local land management process for a decade before county officials decided to scrap it and get a new one.
That decision came two years ago after the vendor chose to eliminate future support of the product the county used. Without the necessary software updates beyond Windows XP, officials knew it wouldn't be long before the entire system fell far behind.
"The system was not performing the way we wanted it to because it was old software," said Terry Bledsoe, Catawba County's CIO. "There was no upgrade path to get the new features we wanted, so we had to replace it."
In October 2009, Catawba County went live with a revamped system using EnerGov.Net, an enterprise land management suite by Atlanta-based EnerGov Solutions. The system overhaul in many ways was overdue. Previously, while county officials did have the ability to dispatch inspectors and handle field work, the aging system had limited mapping software and no digital storage capabilities. Building plans had to be transported in paper form, which took time and slowed productivity. Even the smallest building requests required a lot of extra legwork to push the process along.
"It really amazed me how many steps there are in even the simplest permit," Bledsoe said. "You want to build a small house out here -- nothing special, just a house -- but there are all kinds of steps. You can't just walk in, get a permit and walk out."
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