Municipal code enforcement officers have a challenging job managing compliance across cities and counties. Keeping track of code violations, issuing citations, collecting fees, and ensuring issues are resolved requires organization and efficiency. Using digital tools specifically designed for code enforcement, rather than generic spreadsheets, can significantly improve productivity and streamline important workflows. As we head into 2023, more advanced and affordable code enforcement software options are available for government agencies of all sizes.
When evaluating code enforcement software, there are several key features to consider based on the needs and size of your agency. For large agencies, solutions that provide end-to-end digital code enforcement with a centralized database are ideal. Mid-size groups may only require software for specific tasks like inspections scheduling and records. And small organizations can benefit from low-cost, web-based software with essential functionality.
Some of the most useful features to have in code enforcement software include:
- Mobile-friendly applications – Allow officers to access records and input data from the field using smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
- Digital inspection scheduling – Enable officers to schedule, manage and note inspections electronically.
- Violation tracking – Allow officers to report violations, issue citations, set deadlines for compliance and track the status of issues.
- Document management – Provide storage for images, notes, permits, and all other documentation in a centralized database.
- Reporting and analytics – Provide metrics on violation and inspection numbers, fines issued and collected, officer workloads, and other key performance indicators.
- Payment processing – Include the option to collect violation and permit fees through the software using credit cards, checks, or cash.
- Contact management – Maintain up-to-date contact information for property owners, contractors, tenants, and other relevant groups.
- User roles and permissions – Allow administrators to designate specific access and edit permissions to users based on their role.
- Custom fields and workflows – Support the unique needs of the agency with customizable fields, processes, and user interfaces.
Code enforcement software should also integrate with the other digital systems used in your city or county government. Options that provide API access and integrate with GIS mapping platforms, permitting systems, utility databases, and municipal courts allow for more efficient data access and sharing across departments. However, software with extensive functionality and a high level of systems integration will typically come with a higher price tag. Carefully evaluate your integration needs to determine how much is necessary based on your resources and workflows.
With a range of code enforcement software available, comparing the options based on features, flexibility, price, and reviews is important. While a few solutions dominate the market, like Tyler Technologies, Accela, and Cityworks, there are also more specialized products worth considering, such as Swordfish, EnerGov, and OpenGov. You may find a powerful enterprise platform ideal or a newer, cheaper SaaS up to the task.
Checking product reviews and talking to government organizations currently using the software can provide valuable insight to aid your decision-making. Review how each solution is rated on key factors like:
- Ease of use – How intuitive and easy to navigate is the software for officers and administrators?
- Scalability – Can the solution handle the number of users and volume of data in your agency now and in the future?
- Flexibility – Does the software provide open API access and is it customizable to your specific needs?
- Data security – Are proper security and encryption methods used to protect sensitive data and personal information?
- Customer support – How comprehensive and responsive is the support offered by the software company?
- Value – Does the solution provide good functionality for the total cost of ownership including software, maintenance, training, and integration fees?
By evaluating your needs, comparing software options based on key factors, and reading reviews from other agencies, you can determine the best code enforcement software for your organization in 2023 and beyond. Modern digital solutions allow code enforcement officers to ditch the paperwork and clipboards for a faster, more efficient way to manage compliance across their cities.