• Posted On: March 06, 2015

Living in an earthquake zone comes with a certain amount of expectation that one day your home will be shaken, your apartment building will sway and your workplace will rattle. There is also an expectation that these structures were built to withstand the momentary shift in the earth’s crust. What most residents don’t think about is that the structures in which they live and work should meet a building code maintained by the International Code Council.

It falls upon city workers to ensure that structures within city limits are up to the building code regulations spelled out in the International Building Code, International Residential Code and/or International Existing Building Code. The ICC will publish new codes every three years, which many states and local governments will use as their guideline for building code regulations that they will follow.

City workers inspecting old buildings that are being retrofitted for seismic activity, or new buildings that are made to withstand heavy jolts common with earthquakes, count on these codes to give them direction in signing off on projects that will keep occupants safe. Studies show that communities with more structures that have been retrofitted for earthquakes have a faster recovery time when big ones hit. There are also fewer casualties, which is extremely important in the eyes of local government officials.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) says that there is “no more important factor in reducing a community’s risk from an earthquake than the adoption and enforcement of up-to-date building codes.” Communities with building code inspectors who can keep up with caseloads are ensuring that the projects investors put a large amount of money into are going as planned, to code, and without obstruction from the normal governmental processes that almost always include too much red tape and delays.

To get a better handle on caseloads, governments are looking toward technology to help inspectors get through more cases per day with more efficiency. For instance, using mobile devices, inspectors can go through an extensive checklist of codes provided by the ICC and make sure that every project is following these codes to the letter. The software allows inspectors to make notes and send reports back to the city where an automated process keeps everyone in the loop. When a follow-up inspection needs to be scheduled, inspectors can do it from the field, and an automated reminder will make sure the appointment isn’t forgotten.

The best mobile software is being used by city workers who are also able to include GIS information on every case they work. They can take pictures of problem areas and include that in their report for better understanding later. It’s this ability to work from the field that allows inspectors to get through more cases in a day and cut out the perception of useless red tape in government. Projects are completed faster and the community is safer for it.

Comcate knows how important earthquake-proof buildings are. We’ve developed code enforcement software that assists city workers in making sure all their cases can be completed in a more reasonable time frame. Instead of hiring more inspectors to use outdated technology in the field, we’re empowering communities to save money by utilizing the current number of inspectors, but in a more efficient manner.

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