When Illinois entered a stay-at-home order at the start of the pandemic, local governments needed to continue delivering basic services, including the review and approval of building permits. In fact, some local officials saw a surge in residential building permits, as residents rushed to remodel bathrooms, repair driveways, and complete other home improvement projects while stuck at home.
But not every community was equally equipped to maintain operations during COVID-19. Just as some private businesses already had the infrastructure in place to transition their employees to remote work, some municipalities in the region — from Crystal Lake to Elk Grove Village and Oak Park — leveraged existing online systems to process permits and accept payments. Others, meanwhile, improvised with makeshift drop boxes and follow-up phone calls to process credit card payments.
ON TO 2050, the region’s long-range plan, urges communities to leverage technological improvements to increase efficiency, service quality, and transparency. The pandemic and its challenges have clearly demonstrated the ways technological improvements, such as online permitting, can help local governments maintain efficient services even in times of crisis.
Here are the key benefits — and challenges — of implementing online permitting.