A local government prescription for growing pains

Moving a smaller city or county’s back-office licensing and permit processes into the modern age may seem like a trivial way to increase government efficiency. But according to Michael Togyi, vice president of marketing and sales for BasicGov, it can play an essential role in managing economic development and citizen interaction. And with his solution, Togyi says even the smallest governments can harness the power of cloud computing.

Mono County, California sits on 3,000 square miles between Yosemite National Park and the Nevada Border. Most of the county is reserved, federal land, rendering roughly seven percent of the county available for private ownership and development. The Town of Mammoth Lakes, the county’s largest community, has 13,000 permanent residents. But during the height of ski season, the resort community sees more than one million visitors. This level of land scarcity and dynamic tourist development created a special kind of planning challenge for the employees of Mammoth Lakes and Mono County.

Gathering the ‘who’ the ‘when’ and the ‘where’ of renovations, building and land development in a timely manner becomes an important issue for municipal planners and policy makers in a place like Mono County/Mammoth Lakes. And technology can play an important role in managing economic development and citizen interaction, says Michael Togyi, vice president of marketing and sales for BasicGov.

“It’s about transparency for citizens…and service costs on the city side,” Togyi told CivSource in an interview last week. BasicGov operates on the Force.com cloud computing platform to deliver business process management for local government, including permits and inspections, code enforcement and planning. The company currently operates in over thirty communities in both the United States and Canada.

For Mono County/Mammoth Lakes, BasicGov implemented a web-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that transitioned functions from an enterprise legacy system, allowing the company and its customer to focus on product development.

“From a capabilities perspective, working on the Force.com platform offers a real advantage because we don’t worry about infrastructure,” Togyi said. “We can focus 100 percent on product development.”

BasicGov modules streamline the workflow for calculating and collecting fees, generating permits and notifying property owners. Users can search and track applications, use pre-built or customize reports and access data from anywhere an Internet connection exists. According to Mr. Togyi, because these modules are a basic CRM process, productivity increases, call volumes decrease and the government staff can act instead of collecting information through a traditional discovery process.

And through the Force.com platform, data is collected and stored using the most secure methods and protocols, making disaster recovery another prime benefit – an advantage only offered through SaaS solutions, Mr. Togyi likes to point out.

“Town Hall in a lot of cities is not always the safest place for sensitive information. We’re the only company in our space that can claim if our data center went down, we’d be back up and running in five minutes.”

GIS Coordinator for Mono County/Mammoth Lakes, Nate Greenberg said the cloud-based solution was instrumental in their decision to use BasicGov. “After evaluating several other permitting systems at both Mono County and the Town of Mammoth, we settled on BasicGov and Force.com because it afforded us a tremendous amount of flexibility, was nimble and easily adaptable to our evolving business needs,” he said on behalf of the company in a case study.

Another benefit of working on the Force.com platform, Mr. Togyi says, is the short deployment and implementation period. “Deployment and implementations usually happen during a five week period. Planning can take a bit longer, but for the most part our solution is very quick to implement.”

And moving forward, new functionality and applications can be developed and implemented as simple plug-ins, so clients can integrate the newest technologies into their business models and workflows, Togyi said.

“Pretty amazing stuff is happening with collaboration tools and government transparency. Traditional [enterprise] companies can’t adapt as quick as the market is moving – Twitter and other forms of social media just can’t be plugged in to these older systems.”

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