(TNS) -- Pittsburghers can now check up on a neighbor’s construction project or new business venture without calling or visiting city hall.
Municipal leaders on Monday introduced Buildingeye, a free website that tracks and maps building permits, planning applications, business license activity and code enforcement within the city limits. The service supplied in concert with San Francisco-based Buildingeye Inc. appears at https://pittsburghpa.buildingeye.com.
“By launching this, we are taking that next step of both transparency and revolutionizing the way that city government operates,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in an unveiling at his office.
He said the system, updated nightly, should help not only curious neighbors but also community groups, builders and others who are interested in the data. Features include customized notifications to alert users about building permits in a particular area, plus contact functions that relay concerns to city officials.
Making such information accessible online should help to reduce the hundreds of phone calls that city workers process every business day for permit, license and similar inquiries, said Maura Kennedy, who directs the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections. The city will pay $66,000 for a first-year subscription to Buildingeye, with renewals priced at $15,000 per three months, according to the administration.
“Instead of having to answer as many phone calls, we can now work on processing more permits and more licenses,” Ms. Kennedy said. She said the change should improve her department’s speed and efficiency.
Building permits in the city are up about 20 percent year over year, Ms. Kennedy said.
City Councilman Dan Gilman introduced Buildingeye to the administration after seeing the technology last year at a National League of Cities conference in Nashville, Tenn. He cast its adoption, which his council colleagues approved, as part of a larger digital transformation in Ms. Kennedy’s department. For about 2½ years, he said, city building inspectors worked without email addresses or cell phones.
Now, Mr. Gilman said, “this software will change the way we do business in the city of Pittsburgh — from a homeowner to a construction company to large-scale developers.”
“I think we are setting a standard for the country about that type of information [for] transparency and efficiency,” he said.
©2016 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.