Civic News

No more paper permits: City of Philadelphia is spending $4.5M to upgrade L&I

At the end of 2015, when the project is slated to be completed, you'll be able to apply for licenses and permits online, L&I inspectors will be able to issue violations through mobile devices and more.

Byron Leighton. (photo by Stephen Babcock)

The City of Philadelphia plans to spend $4.5 million on a new system that will overhaul how its Department of Licenses and Inspections works, it announced today. The contract aims to make the city department more effective, efficient and transparent, city officials said.

Here’s what to expect at the end of 2015, when the project is slated to be completed, according to city officials:

  • You’ll be able to apply for licenses and permits online. Right now, you have to apply for most licenses and permits in person at the Municipal Services Building, said L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams.
  • L&I inspectors will have mobile devices they can use to issue violations in real time, rather than returning to their office and doing it by hand. L&I employees spend about two and a half hours doing this type of administrative work each day, Williams said.
  • Real estate developers will be able to submit plans for review electronically. Right now, a developer has to go to each department and get approvals for every different aspect of the project (Streets Department if the work affects the sidewalk, Water Department if it affects water pipes, etc.), Williams said. With the new system, a developer will be able to submit her plan online as a “one stop shop.”
  • L&I staffers will have more time to do what matters, Williams said. The new system will automate a lot of the tasks that staffers do manually. For example, when L&I checks to see if a contractor has the right kinds of clearances to do business, a staffer does that manually. The new system will red-flag, say, a tax-delinquent contractor.
  • You’ll have even more access to L&I data. L&I released its data in a web app, but this project will be provide even more data than what’s already available, said the city’s Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid.

The city chose Colorado-based government software company Computronix for the contract, Ebeid said.

The L&I project is just one part of the Nutter administration’s $120 million effort to upgrade both its technology infrastrucure and its business processes. This will be one of the most visible projects because of how customer-facing it is, but also because of L&I’s ongoing prominence in the news.


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