• Posted On: October 21, 2014

Cities become light on resources when natural disasters strike. Look no further than to Napa, CA, which was hit by an earthquake in August causing a backlog of building inspections.

Even when things are going as planned, inspection officer requests can get out of hand fairly quickly, especially in communities that have a mixture of old buildings and multiple vacancies due to foreclosure. In Napa’s case, city workers had flagged 103 buildings as unsafe to enter the day after the earthquake. They expected to have 500 total flagged as unsafe by the time they evaluated all the city’s structures.

Napa has a hotline number for citizens to call, which they took advantage of following the quake. More than 800 calls were received by Monday following Sunday’s tremor. A city worker said plainly that they didn’t have the staff to support all the requests. In order to get to the most serious issues first, city workers were calling each property owner individually to learn the extent of the damage.

Mother Nature can’t be stopped, but city inspection officer workflow can be enhanced to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters. For instance, if an inspection officer is manually writing out reports in the field, then taking those notes back to the office to enter them into an archaic system, the rate at which they get to each and every problem property can be expected to be exceedingly slow. Unfortunately, inspection officers in many cities are following this exact procedure everyday.

It doesn’t take a natural disaster to show how weak a city’s code inspection department’s workflow actually is. When the recession hit, foreclosures became commonplace. Left vacant for month after month, these homes and the grounds on which they sat became eyesores and a public safety hazard. Weed abatement costs left city parks and recreation departments strapped for cash and short on workers. Having antiquated workflow processes only added to the issues.

Winter snowstorms, summer thunderstorms and massive rainfall can also wreak havoc on an inspection officer’s workweek as calls come racing in for their inspection services.

What building inspection officers and safety managers require to get through a heavy caseload faster is technology that brings the work to them. With the right software solution, they can take a handheld device into the field to file their reports, open new cases and update citizens on the status of their cases. There is no more wasted time going back to the officer to re-enter their notes into a system that slows down the process.

The founders of Comcate came up with a method to speed up the rate at which city workers can do their jobs. They developed software that integrates with existing CRM, works on citizens’ smartphones and puts technology in the hands of every inspection officer in the field. The building and safety manager solution we built is designed specifically for inspectors and managers. It’s easy to use and ensures thorough and standardized inspections. For more information about our full line of products, contact us today.

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