Citizen self service: a guide

January 10, 2023by e-PlanSoft™ Team

You have to get to City Hall to submit a plan application by tonight. You don't live downtown, so the commute isn't exactly a walk through the park. Then again, it might feel like one if there wasn't a snowstorm affecting the roads. But it has to get done, so you get in your car and make the journey.

You stand in line for who knows how long until you come face-to-face with exactly who you need to see. You ask them for the permit application you've been seeking all this time. They tell you they can give you one to fill out, but you'll have to come back again to submit the form because the place is closing soon.

This is how it used to be for applicants. For some, it still is. But it doesn't have to be now that citizen self service is becoming mainstream.

With citizen self service, there is no commute. There is no waiting in line. There is no permit technician. And there are no closing hours or waiting until the next day to do it all over again.

No, it's not too good to be true — it's already here.

What is citizen self service?

Citizen self service is like customer service without an actual person on the other end. For example, if you're a homeowner or developer, you can use a citizen self service portal for a variety of purposes, such as requesting or submitting permit applications online. To put it simply, it's sharing information using software.

To clarify, citizen self service can apply to a lot of different things, from public works projects to making an online payment. You could pay a utility bill via citizen self service, for instance. Regardless of what it's applied to, citizen self service is about sharing information from one party to another.

What are the benefits of citizen self service?

A huge benefit of citizen self service is its speed and efficiency. Instead of waiting for someone to serve you, you can use electronic portals to get what you need with little to no waiting.

Think back to the permit application example. Traditionally, if you want to build something new on your property, you'd have to go to City Hall or some other building authority and ask for a permit application. After filling it out, you'd then have to hand it to a clerk and wait until the application is approved.

With citizen self service, you can use a computer or other internet-connected device to submit a permit application electronically. There's no need to ask for a form, as the form is readily available to fill out online. You don't even have to hand it to a permit technician, because the portal connects your application directly to them as soon as you hit the submit button. The application can then be reviewed and approved via the same portal you first sent it through. This process tends to be much faster and more efficient than traditional methods, not to mention it saves you a significant amount of time because you don't have to drive back and forth from City Hall.

Who can use citizen self service?

Technically, anyone can use citizen self service, though that doesn't mean it's necessary for everyone. In the context of epermitting, the most common type of person to use it is the permit applicant. This could be a homeowner or developer seeking to make an addition to their personal property. A plan reviewer would need access to plan sets. Such individuals would likely use citizen self service to do more than just submit a permit application — they would also use it to submit completed plan sets for approval.

How can you take advantage of citizen self service?

For epermitting, you can't go wrong with e-PlanSoft® goPost™. goPost™ is a cloud-based application portal for epermitting, allowing you to do all the aforementioned tasks and more. At its core, this solution is a portal between the applicant and the building authority that hands out permits and plan sets.

How to ensure applications and plan sets are viable

goPost™ comes with a built-in service called PDF Scout. This unique application checks both applications and plans as they're sent through the portal for readability and viability. This can be helpful for both applicants and plan reviewers, as it checks for qualities such as whether it's of a high enough resolution to be easily read, that it has no potentially security-compromising attachments and if the file is not corrupted in any way.

If you're a plan reviewer who's ever been sent a low-quality, hard-to-read plan set to look over, PDF Scout means you don't have to ask for a new plan set — instead, goPost™ will use PDF Scout to automatically reject it if it doesn't meet the necessary requirements.

Citizen self service is the future of epermitting

Convenience, thy name is citizen self service. As epermitting is slowly but surely succeeding the traditional methods of obtaining and submitting permits, citizen self service is becoming more and more ubiquitous to remove all the unnecessary layers of difficulty that don't need to come with the application and plan reviewing processes.

At e-PlanSoft®, we design web-based software solutions for people who don't want to go through the hardship this article started with.  Get Started today!


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