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  • Development Services program among Kennedy Center award finalists

    Feb 09, 2017 | Read More News
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    The Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation has named Pima County Development Services Department as finalist for a national award.

    The 2017 Innovations in American Government Awards recognize and promote innovation and excellence in public service. 

    RemoteThe Kennedy School named Pima County Development Services a finalist for its innovation of a computer-based scheduling and routing system that optimized building inspection logistics. The system distributes and routes inspections among staff in the most economic and time-sparing manner. 

    Development Services also developed a program of video inspections, that allowed for even more time-saving measures and customer convenience. 

    “Many thanks to Rich Franz-Ünder of Pima County for his unrelenting pursuit of possibilities in his role as project manager implementing this overall vision; Ray Brice, our GIS guru and adventurer in the realm of the ESRI VRP; Robert Chandler, our Chief Building Inspector and excellent sounding board; and our quality team of dedicated inspectors — we dream large and are the better for their actions,” said Yves Khawam, Pima County Chief Building Official. 

    Previous Innovations in American Government Awards winning programs have been used as models in other jurisdictions, served as research cases or taught in public administration curriculums across the country.  

    Below is the description of Pima County Development Services Inspection Service Delivery program from the Innovations in American Government website:

    Providing building permit inspections in Pima County in a timely and cost-effective manner is a challenge for inspectors grappling with the sprawling geography of a county about the size of New Hampshire, and with the large population in the un-incorporated jurisdiction of 353,264. To improve customer service and reduce the cost to deliver the service, Pima County proposed implementing computer-based auto-routing to achieve the two goals of providing inspection clients with an estimated time of arrival (ETA), and reducing travel time and miles driven. 
    A routing system was designed that automatically distributes the roughly 100 inspection appointments each day between six inspectors in the most efficient route possible, equitably distributing the work load. A pilot test of the ArcGIS Vehicle Routing Problem Solver (VRP) software over several months, compared the actual routes of inspectors with the auto-routes, adjusted the computer inputs and made corrections to the county’s GIS database of streets based on those comparisons. Inputs to the VRP include a calendar of inspector availability, inspector start location, estimated time required to complete each scheduled inspection, inspection location, assignment of geographic areas that require four-wheel-drive vehicles and identifying those inspectors with those vehicles. 
    The VRP also utilizes the street network and associated speed limits that are in the county’s GIS system to calculate drive times. Using county data is essential, as commercially available mapping tools like Google Maps do not update often enough to reflect new subdivisions, a busy location for inspection, reliably. 
    To mitigate the inability of the software to incorporate customer requests for specific inspection appointment times, the team developed a complementary program for just-in-time remote video inspections using Skype and a calendaring app. The client may schedule a remote inspection up to a few minutes prior to the requested inspection time, and inspections are performed by inspectors in the office while the contractor or homeowner acts as cameraperson.


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