IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.
Sponsor Content
What does this mean?

Pinellas County, Fla., Takes an Enterprise Approach to Modernization


How a cloud-based platform is simplifying IT operations and improving the constituent experience.

With multiple legacy technologies delivering a subpar user experience, Pinellas County was ready for an IT makeover.

Technology leaders in the county on Florida’s Gulf Coast opted for a unified, enterprisewide approach to modernization. Using cloud-based government software solutions, they streamlined the way constituents interact with government and simplified internal operations, helping the county get more done and reducing the burden on internal staff.

The county’s transformation project underscores the value of deploying a unified resident portal that serves as an operating system for government, pulling disparate applications together in a holistic, user-friendly experience.


Pinellas County is home to nearly a million people on the west side of Tampa Bay. While most live in cities such as St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, more than a quarter million residents live in unincorporated areas of the county.

Surrounded by water on three sides with 35 miles of coastline, Pinellas is one of the most population-dense counties in Florida, according to Deb Frank, the county’s director for business application services. “There’s not a lot of land to build on,” Frank says. “To provide services to the residents and businesses here, we have to keep thinking outside the box.”

Unfortunately, legacy technologies kept boxing the county in. “We had a lot of technical debt,” recalls Bryan Zumwalt, chief technology officer for Pinellas County. A maze of old, outdated systems impacted internal efficiency and service levels to the public.

“They had all these disparate systems that didn’t talk or play nice with each other,” says Gabe Graham, director of growth and field marketing at Accela, the software vendor that helped Pinellas County modernize its IT systems.

Zumwalt says the county had dozens of separate applications for handling inspections, building permits, public safety and more. Supporting and securing those fractured tools required staff with specific knowledge and experience that was costly to maintain. The complex IT environment also created friction for residents and businesses interacting with county departments.

These issues motivated Zumwalt and his team to take a different approach when they modernized the county’s application suite. “Instead of focusing on a vertical application and solving one problem, we try to select platforms that allow us to solve many problems,” he says.

The platform strategy also simplifies interactions among applications serving multiple government functions. “It is all interconnected and one thing can impact another,” Frank says. “So, the more we can take an enterprise approach, the easier it is for us to put the pieces together.”


The enterprise approach maximizes functionality for residents and makes it easier for them to do business with Pinellas County. Instead of trying to reconcile software tools from multiple vendors, the county centralized its applications in the Accela Civic Platform.

This platform provides a unified portal for public-facing functions like inspections and permitting. Within the platform, Accela has a range of applications designed specifically for public-sector needs.

For example, the portal supports important commercial activity like real estate development. “Users can get real-time information on the status of permits,” Zumwalt says. “They can file complaints for different types of cases that we track. It’s a very convenient way for residents to access government services.”

The platform also includes a mobile app to support county field crews, Graham says. “This allows real-time field inspections, so inspectors can do everything online rather than having to fill out hard-copy paperwork.”

Apps within the platform share data natively, providing new insights and facilitating cross-department collaboration. “Now, the building department can work better with the planning department because they’re all on one system,” Graham says.

The cloud-based Accela platform runs on Microsoft Azure, eliminating the need for the county to buy, maintain and secure data center hardware. The cloud lets Zumwalt and his team concentrate on innovation instead of supporting physical servers and storage.

“Accela makes the capital investments to deliver the application,” Zumwalt says. “That allows us to focus our dollars on enhancing business functionality instead of worrying about classic IT infrastructure.”

A core principle of Pinellas County’s enterprise approach to modernization was finding a long-term partner that could support the county in the face of relentless change.

“We’ve had vendors in the past that have simply not kept up with their technology,” Zumwalt says. “Accela is always innovating within their own software. I believe we’ll be on the Accela platform 20 years from now.”


Pinellas County is using the Accela platform to transform internal operations and public interactions.

Internally, the platform approach boosts efficiency and reduces the number of IT staff needed to support licensing and permitting activities.

“Instead of supporting dozens of applications with many different types of skills and technologies, now we have one platform we can support with a very small set of core people,” Zumwalt says. “I feel very strongly that without the platform, we would need more staff than we have to date to support permitting.”

In addition, consolidated operations generate enterprisewide business intelligence that helps Pinellas County officials understand trends and respond to constituent concerns as they arise.

For residents and businesses, the platform provides a seamless and simple way to access the county services and programs they need.

“We’re building something of a virtual one-stop,” Frank says. “Our residents have one single place where they can go to conduct business with the county.”

Accela is an industry leader in designing and delivering licensing, permitting and code enforcement solutions that sit at the heart of government operations to improve efficiency, increase resident engagement and enable the development of thriving communities.