Before its second birthday in November, the City of Philadelphia’s Business Services Center website will add more interactivity and have the majority of licenses and permits available, officials tell Technically Philly.
“The portal was the first step in the overhaul of Phila.gov, collecting and sharing all business-related information for business users, rather than asking them to hunt through multiple departmental sites to get what they need,” said Sara Merriman, the director of policy initiatives for the city’s Department of Commerce.
The next release of the portal, internally scheduled for late summer, will include three major ‘interactive’ features: (1) a wizard tool to help direct businesses to the licenses they may need, (2) a wizard output into a dashboard that users can save and return to as they work through their tasks and (3) a business registration feature that will in future releases be used as the basis for further interactivity like online permit delivery and payment tracking, Merriman said.
In addition to the added interactivity, by the end of 2011, the portal is planned to house most city license and permit applications.
“We are targeting to have 75 percent of [license and permit applications] by volume up by end of year, getting contractors, developers and homeowners out of line at the Municipal Services Building and online,” said Daniel Heitzer, the deputy DOT chief information officer for business improvement services.
The rebuilding of Phila.gov was one of three top priorities outlined in January by interim CTO Tommy Jones.
“If you’re trying to get a business license, why do you care what department handles it? You care, ‘Can I get through this process?” Jones said then. “I love my residents, but I don’t want to see them in my office. Everything they need to interface with the city should be available online, and we’re working that way.”
The new business portal, which first launched in November 2009, now averages 17,000 unique visitors a month, said Jeff Friedman, the former Division of Technology chief of staff and currently manager of civic innovation and participation in the mayor’s office. “The city is [making] it as easy as possible for businesses and ultimately all citizens to transact with and obtain needed information through the same type of online experience we are all used to in other parts of our lives.”
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