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Santa Monica Recognized for Use of Digital Technology

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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By Lookout Staff

November 13, 2020 -- The City of Santa Monica has been recognized for its use of digital technology to transform the permitting process and provide homeless services during the coronavirus emergency.

The Center for Digital Government ranked Santa Monica fifth among cities with populations between 75,000 and 124,999 for improving "digital customer experience," the organization announced Wednesday.

The 20th annual survey "recognizes cities using technology to better serve their citizens despite new challenges triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic," according to CDG.

“Innovative cities are utilizing technology and analyzing data to better serve their citizens, respond quickly to citizen needs around COVID-19 and support digital experience initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director, CDG.

The 2020 survey recognized Santa Monica for transforming the permitting process to issue permits more quickly and improve same day, over the counter permit services.

“COVID-19 introduced new challenges and opportunities,” says Ariel Socarras, The City's Building and Safety Manager. “Digitizing our counter services has been a big lift."

The City's new Virtual Permit Counter services decreased the time it takes to receive building permits for low impact projects to as little as three business days.

In addition it makes issuing building permits quicker for projects that successfully completed plan review.

The survey also recognized the City's Project Connect, a new data sharing tool developed by Akido Labs that improve homeless services.

The application allows frontline workers to "seamlessly share information, expedite services and ultimately improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness," City officials said.

The app has also improved discharge planning from hospitals and jail and offers a pathway to housing and services, officials said.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with the Digital Cities Survey as we work quickly to improve the digital experience for our constituents throughout the City’s operations,” said the City’s Chief Information Officer Joseph Cevetello.

“Improvements to the permit process and Project Connect are two initiatives among many that make Santa Monica a truly digital city,” Cevetello said.

The City of Sugar Land, Texas took the top spot among cities with populations between 75,000 and 124,999 for forming an Office of Performance and Accountability and a Data Committee to deal with data needs and policies.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government.

CDG is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education.

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