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Oregon DMV Cuts Wait Times With New Lobby Management System

The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles is using a new real-time customer management system known as Next in Line in 59 field offices, helping to improve wait times for more than 3 million.

A ticket dispenser inside a DMV office.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional comment from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Imagine arriving at the DMV, checking in, and then heading out for lunch. That option, and others, is now open to Oregonians thanks to technology upgrades by the state’s motor vehicle agency, addressing the “lobby management queueing” system.

The new system, known as Next in Line, supported by technology from Fast Enterprises, enables mobile-friendly appointment scheduling and management, as well as kiosks in each of the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles’ 59 field offices to support check-in and assigning an accurate wait time. The system regularly sends out appointment updates via text or email.

“So if they’re in a mall, they can go shopping or do other things while they’re waiting for their number to be called. And we update them on a regular basis,” explained Ben Kahn, innovation and planning manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Which is a lot different than the way we did it before.”

The old system was outdated, and only available in about half of the field offices, said Kahn.

“So the other half just kind of estimated wait times the best they could,” he explained. “So we had no real good reports on how long people [were] waiting, and whether they had an appointment or not. That was difficult for us.”

Today’s new system, with improved efficiencies, has resulted in a 68 percent decrease in wait times, according to Fast Enterprises.

Kahn noted the improved wait time statistic is based on the first few months of data.

“We’re really pleased with the early results, but we are being cautious with the data until we have a full year of use with the new system,” Kahn said in a follow-up email with Government Technology.

Another perk, particularly for patrons, is the ability to schedule an appointment on a mobile device, and then modify that appointment when other demands get in the way. This feature has reduced the no-show rate, which used to hover around 50 percent, down to 20 percent, said Kahn.

Residents with upcoming DMV appointments get reminders several days prior to the appointment, said Amy Joyce, administrator for the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. If they cancel an appointment, “the system ... immediately reopens that slot, so some other Oregonian can pick up that slot. Whereas in the past, if you had a 50 percent no-show [rate] and people are not showing up, other people get frustrated if they can’t find an open appointment.”

New systems almost always lead to new tranches of data to review and gain insights into government operations. The Next in Line system, which arrived on budget and 11 months ahead of schedule, gives more detailed insights into statewide wait times, but also drills down into individual field offices, or regions, to understand the particulars around wait times in those areas.

“It’s helping us identify opportunities for improvement, and helping us identify opportunities for understanding how some of these offices are doing amazing work, getting people through the line. So the data has been great,” said Kahn.

In 2020 the Oregon DMV launched a major technology upgrade known as Oregon License Issuance and Vehicle Registration — OLIVR — which allowed drivers to renew their licenses online, access their profile, update emergency contacts, make payments and more.

Today, the DMV features more than 20 services online, which even includes an online proctored permit test, required for driver’s licenses.

“We have a lot of security in place to ensure you are who you say you are. We use cameras and that sort of thing,” said Kahn. “We’re finding that it’s a better atmosphere for a lot of people who take their test, instead of in a busy DMV field office. And if they don’t pass, they can take it again the next day and not have to make an appointment. ... We’re finding our customers are really enjoying that.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.