The Building Department uses Cityworks Server PLL for the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team (UNIT) code enforcement. The UNIT consists of five officers, each managing a geographic area of the city. Inspectors access Cityworks PLL via air cards on tablet PCs that allow them to enter data and create cases while in the field. PLL has benefited the City in three major areas: application support, business integration, and workflow.
The old client-based application system the Building Department used before Cityworks PLL was developed using Visual Basic 2003 and SQL Server 2000. This system became progressively more difficult to maintain and needed to be completely rewritten. Switching from the previous system to the web-based Cityworks has improved and simplified application support throughout the department. IT staff no longer need to update each and every department computer when making changes, saving the City valuable time and resources. In addition, the City no longer manages a separate homegrown application. Thus, application and programming hurdles, like software incompatibility issues, don’t cost the City the time and effort it takes to develop and manage their own application.
The ability of Cityworks to integrate seamlessly with Racine’s GIS has been a major benefit. PLL takes advantage of the City’s GIS infrastructure data, providing the ability to utilize the GIS framework with code enforcement issues and points of interest. In addition to GIS benefits, the open nature of the software has allowed the department to customize and integrate Cityworks with assessor and finance software.
Violation notices and reinspection letters generated from cases that are attached to parcels within the GIS reflect the current parcel ownership or tenant information directly from the GIS. The assessor’s information on each parcel is stored in the GIS, saving the City the time and effort involved in replicating the assessor data across multiple systems.
As part of the implementation, IT staff from Racine worked with their Cityworks Project Manager to develop a custom, web-based invoicing process that integrates Cityworks Server PLL with the finance software. This integration has enabled automation of tasks, such as invoice request processing, resulting in substantial time savings. Before Cityworks, each invoice request took an average of 3–5 minutes to process manually. Now the process consists of two simple clicks, taking just a few seconds per invoice. Running a report takes less than one minute where before it was much more time-consuming. These improvements have resulted in substantial gains in time and data accuracy. So far, over 1700 invoice requests have been processed using the Cityworks invoice request integration.
The built in workflow of Cityworks Server PLL has enabled the City to better manage processes and have an improved overview of day-to-day operations. All case-related documents can be directly attached to cases, resulting in streamlined complaint processing and overall case management.
Reporting and case management processes have also become much more efficient as a result of Cityworks PLL. All documents submitted by property owners related to their cases can be attached directly to the case, eliminating paperwork that used to be sent between the Street Maintenance & Building Divisions and the office of the Commissioner of Public Works. The new system provides a much more organized, efficient, and eco-friendly process.
“The combination of Cityworks Server PLL and AMS has given us one central location to manage DPW (Department of Public Works) processes,” states Brian Dechant, Building Department Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team (UNIT) at Racine. “Cityworks PLL has been very helpful in expediting our code enforcement and invoicing procedures, providing us great ROI benefits. We look forward to the implementation of business licensing and building permits into our program in the near future which will enhance our processes even more.”
The City of Racine, Wisconsin, is located on the shores of Lake Michigan, about 30 miles south of Milwaukee and 60 miles north of Chicago, Illinois. Racine is the fifth largest city in Wisconsin with approximately 82,000 residents. The community is known for its unique lakefront zoo, Frank Lloyd Wright creations, and the Wind Point Lighthouse that inspires many artists. Racine has historically been a center for Danish-American culture. Kringles (a thin, delicate Danish pastry) are an important part of Racine’s cultural identity as several local bakeries make and ship hundreds of thousands of Kringles each year. Downtown Racine is home to the stunning Racine Art Museum and the Racine Heritage Museum.
By Thierno Ndao, Developer-Database Administrator, City of Racine