• Posted On: November 07, 2014

The south Napa earthquake that hit the community in the early hours of August 24 only lasted a moment, but its effects are being felt to this day. With losses in the $400 million-plus range, the recovery efforts will go on for years. For city workers, dealing with the structural inspections has been nothing short of a nightmare.

Two days after the quake, city workers had a backlog of 800 requests for building inspections. Normally, requests for a building inspection wouldn’t cause much of an issue for city workers, but when disasters hit, any community is going to have specific issues that come up. When you’re in areas where earthquakes are a part of life, inspecting the old buildings near the epicenter is going to put a strain on your inspectors.

It didn’t take long for Napa’s building inspectors to red tag 103 buildings they deemed unsafe. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg; they expected to have five times that number red flagged by the time they got through all the inspections.

City support staff admitted that they didn’t have enough inspectors to handle the crush of requests, even as inspectors worked non-stop since the quake first hit.

Napa’s situation isn’t unique. Whether it’s tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods or drought, city crews can find themselves overwhelmed rather quickly as disaster takes hold of the community. Communities with the proper building inspection software are able to keep up with the tasks put before them much better than communities that are using old work processes to manage the load.

Too many communities have city and county governments that are financially strained and don’t have the resources to bring in more inspectors. However, if they are equipped with the right technology, their current inspectors could be more productive and could more easily get through a large load of cases. It’s all about streamlining the workflow, automating the system and bringing wireless components into the mix.

For instance, communities with a large building inspection load can get through them easily if the inspectors are equipped with a handheld device in the field. They can get through an electronic checklist, pull up historical information on a property, open a new case, close a case and send reports to the appropriate individuals.

Case information can be automatically populated and printed out with permits and other forms quickly and easily when the department has the right technology behind them. Furthermore, GIS technology that is integrated with the best modern devices and software get inspectors where they need to be. They can also more easily map their daily caseload.

If you’re still working with antiquated equipment, you can’t include photographs and documentation with your reports filed from the field. Instead, you’re stuck in the office putting together the paperwork and shuffling it off to the next person. With automated processes that are part of newer technologies, all of this can be sent from the field.

Comcate is a software company that understands the pressures placed on governmental departments. We’ve developed a software program that will save you time, money and keep your staff out in the field.

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