COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

CountyView Web Demonstration

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Demonstration of Community Development’s Internet Access for Development Related Applications

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):  Messrs.  Tucker, Foley, Graham, MacCall

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   No

 

 

AGENDA DATE:

December 3, 2008

 

ACTION:                INFORMATION:  X

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   

 

ATTACHMENTS:   No

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The Board’s Development Review Process Task Force’s recommendations included development of a one stop webpage devoted to staying informed about development activities in the community. Those recommendations were approved by the Board in May 2007.   As part of the implementation of those recommendations, Community Development staff has developed an online system for accessing information on all permits and applications.   This effort is called CountyView Web.   The purpose of this agenda item is to demonstrate this product to the Board prior to the staff’s formal rollout, as well as review staff’s plan to advertise and support this product.       

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:  

Goal Four:  Effectively manage growth and development

 

DISCUSSION:

Community Development manages all development related applications using a database management system developed by Municipal Software and marketed under the name of CityView.  Recognizing the County specific system needed a name more reflective of the County, it is simply called CountyView. This system allows staff to accurately track progress on any application or project, maintain a digital repository for all actions and correspondence with respect to those applications, and easily access project histories.  Through public access terminals in Community Development’s reception area, others have also been able to use this system.   CountyView was installed in 2004 and provided the exclusive means of managing development related applications.  Approximately three years ago, staff felt the system had matured to the point that it could be expanded to provide public access through the Internet.   About the same time, the Board’s Development Review Process Task Force was recognizing a need for improved online access of community development related information.   Staff has spent the last two years developing and refining the web based application for use by both the general public and applicants. The name for this web based access is called “CountyView Web”.  

 

CountyView Web has been available from the County’s web page (www.albemarle.org) by going to the “eGovernment” button for several months.  During this initial phase, CountyView web has undergone extensive testing by the public and development community as part of a soft rollout. Staff believes CountyView Web is now ready to be advertised to the public as a means of accessing information on development related applications.   Prior to that advertisement, staff is using this opportunity to provide the Board a demonstration of CountyView Web.   While CountyView web is a fairly comprehensive system for obtaining information about development activities, the trade-off is the system is not intuitively simple and people with little experience of the County’s development processes may find it overwhelming.  To compensate, staff plans to provide the public demonstrations on how to perform a variety of tasks on the system, provide regular monthly “drop in” opportunities for anyone who may want additional training, and provide an online help section for first time/casual users that includes users tips, a basic tutorial, glossary, and troubleshooting.   Additionally, staff has already begun helping walk-in visitors and plans to continue this assistance. 

 

Finally, as part of this rollout, staff plans to widely advertise this new product.  This advertisement will include County A-Mail, press releases, notices sent to stakeholder groups that might have interest, citizen advisory groups, and other organizations with an interest in County development activities.  

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Ongoing maintenance of the web based application is anticipated to require several hours per week of staff time, but does not require additional staffing.  Software maintenance fees are already budgeted for CountyView and the web page is folded within that support.  In the future, it is anticipated that operation of the web page will require additional investments in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 for hardware or software upgrades every 3-5 years.  Budget requests for those investments would come to the Board as part of the annual budget process.     

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

This is provided for information only and no action is required.  Staff is interested in any feedback the Board may wish to provide with either the demonstrated product or the planned rollout.  

 

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