Firm streamlines online permits

A company that provides building contractors with customized online permit

applications in more than 1,200 cities said it has streamlined its system

even further.

NetClerk Inc. has unveiled CityCentral, a new system that enables municipalities

to review, manage and approve permits online securely.

"We have a whole mechanism where the city and contractors can communicate

with each other," said Jon Fisher, the company's co-founder. "It's a collaborative

structure we've erected here."

The company launched a Web-based permit application process, called PermitCentral,

more than a year ago. It created a central online location where construction

industry professionals, such as electrical, plumbing and roofing contractors,

could fill out permits based on a municipality's specifications. NetClerk

then submitted the application to the municipality by e-mail, fax or courier.

Fisher said providing municipalities a venue to view those applications

online was the next phase. To use CityCentral, all a city needs is a Web

browser and 15 minutes to get set up, he said.

Cities can view online permits in real time; approve, reject and track applications;

and deliver approved permits back to the contractor. Data is encrypted,

and the system can be set up so that only one computer within a city department

can be used to view the online permits.

If a city official rejects an application, the official can write the reasons

in a text box, which can be viewed by a contractor in real time, said Douglas

Morrison, NetClerk's government relations manager. He said such a system

greatly reduces the number of phone calls a city would normally get. The

new process also improves turnaround time for a contractor to begin work

once a permit is approved.

The company is offering the service to its 1,200-city network. A handful of cities are using the CityCentral system now, including Denver. The company also is working with several cities to allow electronic signatures. Other features of the new system include city confirmation of contractor business licenses and proof of worker's compensation.

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