• March 28, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Local Government Goes High-Tech

Calvin, Giordano & Associates has released INKforce, a customizable Web-based application for municipal code enforcement, for its debut in Lauderhill, FL. Code enforcement, an infamously time-intensive and paperwork-heavy aspect of municipal government, requires written notices at every step of the process, according to Hector Perez, the company's associate for data technology and development. "From the moment a complaint is filed, through inspection to eventual court hearings," Perez says, "there's paperwork to be generated and tracked." Joan Fletcher, Geographic Information Systems manager for Lauderhill's Department of Engineering Services, says in CGA's news release that the INKforce is "very intuitive...our officers, though they have had very little computer experience, said it was very user-friendly and easy to pick up." With 40 hours of training on the software, Lauderhill's nine code-enforcement officers have been able to more efficiently service the community of 57,000 people, according to Fletcher. INKforce, installed on Panasonic Toughbook Tablet PCs, provides a number of benefits to field personnel, the most obvious being a real-time connection to the city's database. Officers can see complaint forms, evidence photos, prior citations, and any other pertinent information without having to carry a paper file. Field personnel can look up the specifics of city and county ordinances through INKforce, and initiate certified mailings while on the site. Real-time access and scheduling also helps prevent duplication of efforts. For example, if a resident lodges a complaint about his neighbor's unsightly vehicle and an officer notices the same nuisance, only one citation will be issued and another officer will not be dispatched. Two other important INKforce features are a built-in geographic information system (GIS) and a digital signature-capture feature. "GIS allows officers to locate properties in less-developed areas," Perez says, where street addresses might be nonexistent or not readily apparent. Digital signatures mean the city has immediate proof of acknowledgement, so violators cannot claim ignorance when reminded of their violations. In addition to code enforcement INKforce can also customize other government software applications in finance, administration, building permitting and inspection, as well as police and fire rescue, according to CGA. INKforce costs $25,000 for the first five licenses, including software and 40 hours of training, according to Dennis Giordano, CGA president. Customization, the GIS module and service updates carry additional costs. The customization process would take approximately one month. INKforce is due to be rolled out next in nearby Weston, FL, and negotiations are under way with local and out-of-state municipalities to implement the system. Related articles: Wireless Conference Highlights Security and Opportunity
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