Portland phoning in permit process
- By Eric Kulisch
- Oct 26, 2000
Officials in Portland, Ore., say their new interactive voice response system
is saving time for both employees and contractors.
The interactive voice response (IVR) system, which debuted Oct. 5, includes
a PC with voice cards that enable a sound-based interface between users
and the system. People communicate with the system by talking and using
touch-tone telephone buttons.
The city says contractors are saving time by using the telephone to
get automated inspection results instead of driving from a construction
site to pick up printed reports. They can call as late as 6 a.m. to schedule
an inspection for the same day.
Using the system, homeowners and contractors can request, reschedule
and cancel inspections; quickly retrieve inspection results; trade messages
with an inspector; or request a faxed status report for projects not yet
With a new software interface between the permitting system and database,
inspectors can mine more data about a site before they go into the field
and post results via their cell phones.
The system handled an average of 410 daily inspection requests during
its first week, just slightly fewer requests than usual. Most people were
able to navigate the new system, said Ann Kohler, communications manager
for the Office of Planning and Development Review.
The IVR software from Selectron Inc., of Portland, and integrating it
with the permitting database cost about $60,000, Kohler said.