Boston had made streamlined permitting a top priority. The quest began with the HubHacks Permitting Challenge, a hackathon co-hosted by the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM). Over two days, experts attempted to reinvent the city’s permitting.
The hackathon’s prototypes included a Find My Address tool to identify the address of record, an app that explains which permits a project needs, and a program to track applications through the permitting process. Boston also revealed a beta version of a new online permitting system that allows users to apply for multiple permits at once, organize permits by project, and include multiple people—say, a contractor and a homeowner—on the account.
The effort to create a better customer experience has yielded significant results. The Inspection Services issued 12,500 more permits in the first year of reform than in the previous year. The average review time for long-form permits was cut by five days, or 20 percent. Permits are now issued on time 75 percent of the time. And the building complaint backlog shrunk from 3,500 to 212.