- Success Story
- Volusia County, Florida
How Volusia County Leveraged Amanda to Streamline Operations and Improve Resident Services
This fast-growing county, best known for its beaches, uses Amanda to manage land use, building standards, endangered species protections, beach protections, permitting, and much more to provide residents and businesses with efficient services.
- 10–12k Building permits issued and 30-35k folders added to Amanda records annually
- 18–24 MONTHS to recoup original Amanda investment
- ONE FILING of civil engineering plans, reduced from 16 copies
- AUTOMATED UPDATES of county systems, pulled nightly from state contractor licensing database
County’s wide-ranging responsibilities could no longer be managed on paper or with multiple software systems
Prior to 2008, when Volusia county began to implement Amanda, most data exchanges were conducted via paper and email distribution, and most departments were using manual processes and paper files. Different departments used multiple software systems that did not interconnect. Customer service was suffering from the lack of readily available data, and the county’s regulatory responsiblities were growing.
The county government is responsible for all of the areas not incorporated into one of the 16 municipalities, as well as the coastline. That means they manage all of the processes involved with land use and protection of wild areas and endangered species. Zoning and comprehensive planning were often completed using excel spreadsheets. These processes generated a tremendous amount of paper, and they also took an enormous amount of time beause information could not be shared easily.
Amanda’s flexibility, enterprise reach, and ability to create single sources of data made county operations more efficient, and improved civic services
When Volusia County first implemented Amanda, the county’s planning and zoning departments began redesigning their folders from the ground up. That helped ensure that various departments that often needed to shared the same data had identical folders. And because of Amanda’s enterprise capabilities, the county was able to use the software to manage almost all of the regulatory type functions they were providing for county residents.
As an example, before Amanda, for a land development project, an applicant had to file 16 signed and sealed complete sets of civil engineered plans and related documents. These would be routed to various county departments for feeback, which was often collected in memo form. That feedback had to be consolidated and formatted. All of this took an enormous amount of time. Today, with Amanda, a developer files just one paper copy and one digital copy. All departments review digital copies and are able to share feedback within Amanda – which also allows easy tracking of the approval and feedback process.
Efficiency gains were immediate, and the county is leading with resident-centric services
Today, Volusia County is issuing 10,000-12,000 building permits annually and adding 30,000-35,000 folders to records in Amanda each year. The efficiency gains from implementing the Amanda enterprise system have enabled them to complete these tasks much faster than they were before, which is better for the county and for residents. The county estimates with the efficiency gains and paper savings alone, the original investment in Amanda was easily recouped in 18-24 months.
The results go far beyond cost savings.
Today, the county can meet most requests – from finding a business tax receipt to requesting a building permit – online. Residents easily submit a variety of requests – including building permit and inspection needs, environmental permits, special use permits, contractor licensing, and more. Most county departments are working on Amanda, meaning data is easily shared, and only has to be requested by a business or resident once.
That digitization has made county employees’ jobs easier and helped them work more efficiently. For example, inspectors in the field now carry a tablet to inspections, and enter their reports, findings, and photos online and directly into Amanda in real time. The more efficient process is easier for inspectors and helps complete inspections faster – a benefit for county residents and developers alike.
The Volusia team is also able to grant external agencies — such as the municipalities in the county, the Sheriff’s Office, the county school board, and utility districts — access to necessary data. Amanda is therefore empowering a closer collaboration between the county and these entities. As an example, when building projects are planned near county/municipal boundaries, the Sheriff’s Office can access building plans in the event of an emergency, and school boards and utility districts are alerted when a development decision will affect their constituents.
Volusia County is making access to data more available to residents as well. For instance, residents can search for all publicly available property records the county has. And when records are housed by one of the municipalities, the county can provide a warm link to the person responsible, not just a main phone number. Volusia county updates that information every two weeks.
The county has also tasked Amanda to interact nightly with the Florida state contractor licensing database. That interaction analyzes any contractors working in the county who have licenses that are suspended or revoked. The automatic update makes sure those contractors cannot apply for or pull permits online until the issue is resolved, and Amanda automatically emails the county’s chief building officer and head of licensing to alert them when such a request comes through. This automated process keeps residents safe and the county in compliance.
The Volusia County team is actively planning other ways to improve resident services using Amanda. Those ideas range from automatically pulling estimated buliding and construction costs from the International Code Council (vs. the county downloading ICC info and uploading it to Amanda twice a year); implenting a 311-type system to help answer residents’ questions that come in through Amanda, and developing a queing program so that when residents visit departments like Motor Vehicles they can get “in-line” right from their phones.