Case Study: City of Pittsburgh

Case Study

In September of 2016, the City of Pittsburgh was continuing its pursuit of an ambitious long-term technological strategy to make public interaction with City operations increasingly user friendly. 

Previously reliant on a patchwork of software programs and brick-and-mortar processes for the creation, editing, approval, sale and reporting of all permits, licenses, registrations, reservations, certifications, and zoning approvals; the City of Pittsburgh’s technology leaders envisioned instead a central, web-based location where all transactions would take place from start to finish within a robust state-of-the-art platform

To this end, the City selected Computronix to develop and implement an enterprise-wide software platform for the issuance of all permits, licenses, registrations, reservations, certifications, and zoning approvals. 

The robust platform the City of Pittsburgh was envisioning would be provided by Computronix’s feature rich COTS+ permitting and licensing solution, POSSE PLS. 

The central location empowered by this platform, where all Pittsburghers would transact from start to finish, would be known as OneStopPGH

“It’s going to be an accountable, predictable and transparent process for any homeowner, developer or business owner who wants to do business or renovate a property here in Pittsburgh.”

Maura Kennedy
Former Director of Permits, Licenses and Inspection
City of Pittsburgh

“This is the beginning of four phases that will allow city residents and businesses to get online and not stand in line.”

Mayor Bill Peduto
City of Pittsburgh

The Challenge

Like many jurisdictions maintaining unintegrated legacy systems, the City of Pittsburgh had come to rely on a patchwork of software programs and manual paper-driven processes with transactions taking place across multiple departments: 

• Department of Permits, Licenses, & Inspections
• Department of Public Works
• Department of City Planning
• Department of Finance
• Department of Parks & Recreation
• Bureau of Fire

The scopes of these transactions varied. In some cases, filling out a form and paying a fee would result in the issuance of a permit. In other cases, the issuance of a permit required a multi-tiered workflow of supporting documentation, inspections, plan reviews, and interdepartmental approvals. The functional schism between different types of transactions was deepened by a tendency to treat departmental processes as mutually exclusive. Software had been acquired in isolation, and this had allowed transactional processes to become entrenched in cycles of insufficient software solutions laced together with outdated, brick-and-mortar operations.

Through the implementation of an enterprise wide solution, the City of Pittsburgh was seeking a solution that would achieve the following objectives:

Avoid isolated software procurement that can result in incomplete solutions.
Avoid isolated software implementation where broader implementation would benefit City processes.
Reduce the need for layers of custom web applications.
Reduce the maintenance burden through good design and use of best practices.
Improve efficiency through automation.
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“Pittsburghers have long wanted a more transparent and simple permitting process, and after lots of very hard work we’ve finally delivered one. Neighborhood development will now be much easier in Pittsburgh, and the move to more online permitting practices couldn’t come at a better time.”

Mayor Bill Peduto
City of Pittsburgh


The Solution

In May of 2020, the City of Pittsburgh launched the 4th and final phase of the transformative OneStopPGH project bringing additional services online for an improved code enforcement system, Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) permits, Right of Way (ROW) permits, fire permits and more. 

With OneStopPGH now fully operational, Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance had fully achieved its vision of a robust “one-stop-shop” website where residents can apply, pay for, and receive business licenses and permits, upload development plans, and track violation notices. With residents now able to navigate the development process from home, work, or on the go; OneStopPGH afforded Pittsburghers the ability to conveniently facilitate all PLI services online from license applications, inspections, and issuances to permit applications, fee payment and issuance, to planning applications and zoning development reviews. In plan review and permitting PLI has brought all plan reviews in-house; reduced initial plan reviews from an average of 23 days to 12 days; begun accepting concurrent reviews with Zoning; and began offering over-time construction inspectors to service customers faster. 

Having successfully achieved its vision of making public interaction with City operations increasingly user friendly, OneStopPGH improves the customer experience in several ways, including the following: 

Chat feature added to Customer Portal allowing PLI staff to support customers remotely while completing applications on the customer portal.
Call Center integration allows PLI staff to triage calls from a call center pertaining to licensing and code enforcement while working from home. The application technicians can forward the call to others in the department including plan examiners. All staff without a city issued cell phone can now make outgoing calls from home.
Integration of DCP, PLI & DOMI permitting functions allows for inter-agency documentation/information sharing, better coordination and a more streamlined and predictable development process for the public.
Through better data reporting, PLI and DOMI can better track code enforcement violations and trends.
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“I would recommend the service (and product). [POSSE PLS] is much more user friendly than our previous system.”

Angie Martinez
Senior ROW Manager
City of Pittsburgh

“Software has been really helpful…[due to COVID-19] we’re doing everything online.”

Sarah Kinter
Acting Director of Licensing & Administration
City of Pittsburgh

The Results

Increase in Permit Activity ($200M to $1.2B)
0 %
Increase in Violation Compliance
0 %
Permit Wait Time Reduction
0 Days
Increase in Revenues
0 %+

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