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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Department of Buildings today announced that new, state-of-the-art handheld tablets have been deployed to 105 Chicago building permit inspectors in 2017. The handheld tablets are connected to the city inspection system and allow inspectors to enter their results in real-time, which reduce overall inspection costs for the City, save time on permit approvals and allow inspectors to complete more inspections.
“The City of Chicago is always committed to finding new ways to be a smarter and more effective government,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Utilizing these tablets allows us to work real-time, speed up the permit process and get ahead of problems before they begin.”
In early 2017, the Buildings Department initiated a pilot program that distributed tablets to ten inspectors. Initial reports already show a decrease of eight days per month of office time for the ten inspectors from February 2017 to September 2017. The tablets also allow field inspectors to send defect notices electronically to their supervisor, which further decreases office time, and helps the City take quick enforcement against habitual bad contractors.
Permit inspections are required for approval of several types of building permits, and to obtain a business license, a liquor license, and a certificate of occupancy where required. The Department of Buildings completed 96,949 permit inspections in 2016 and nearly 70,000 permit inspections to date in 2017. The new innovative technology replaces the previous process of returning to the office to manually enter information.
“The quicker we can complete a permit inspection and enter results, the sooner businesses can open with new jobs and added tax revenue, and residential occupants can close on their property” said Judy Frydland, Building Commissioner. “This enhanced technology helps the whole process move more efficiently and supports those investing money in our city.”
Overall building permit activity is on the rise for the past five years, with 1,154 more permits issued to date in 2017, as compared to the same time period in 2016 and 3,370 more permits issued than the same period in 2015.
Other improvements this year includes a new electrical code that brings additional energy efficiency to Chicago's booming building industry, improves safety requirements and lowers costs for residents and businesses as well as a new contractor ordinance that streamlines and provides necessary steps for discipline against contractors and trade professionals who repeatedly violate Chicago building code and licensing regulations.