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Virtual Inspections: Creating Efficiency Through COVID-19 & Beyond

Matt Jarman
  • Apr 21, 2021
  • 4 minutes

virtual inspection blog

Budget constraints, lack of IT knowledge and resources, security concerns, or maybe even metathesiophobia (the fear of change) are all reasons why local government organizations cannot adapt to the digital environment. However, the need to digitize and increase efficiency is here to stay. 

The good news is, not all efficiency building techniques take away from your budget. Virtual inspections for both business and residential purposes can be implemented within your current community development software at no additional cost. 

Let’s explore why you should start leveraging virtual inspections and some tips to help you get started. 

Addressing community concerns

Adding virtual inspections to your process portfolio is key to reducing unnecessary contact and limiting the spread of illnesses. Amid the global pandemic, health and safety have become more prominent in the ways we think about the world around us. We are driven to be more conscious about the world around us and how our decisions affect others. Citizens expect the same level of consciousness from the governments they trust with their tax dollars. 

Incorporating virtual inspections means lower levels of risk for your inspectors and the citizens they interact with. Improving processes with health and safety in mind can improve your town’s image in a meaningful way. 

Reducing contact doesn’t have to mean reducing engagement with your community. In fact, many residents see inspectors as partners with a common goal. Increase citizen engagement by shifting smaller inspections to them. Citizens will feel like they are part of the process and working with you, not waiting on you. 

Overall, virtual inspections help organizations build trust through responsible, remote engagement and creating a team mentality for project success.

Expand your resource capability while streamlining your inspection workflow

It is undeniable that the drive for moving to virtual operations was triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, community safety is not the only reason that government organizations choose to incorporate virtual inspections into their everyday operations. Some organizations have been using virtual inspections to better serve their community by being able to serve more people with the same resources. 

In Delaware, the county of New Castle has been using virtual inspections since 2016 and their department says that these processes have not only helped them navigate the pandemic safely, but the mileage and time savings have made them a staple in the community.¹

So, when should you consider using virtual inspections? Each inspection type is unique and should not always require an inspector to be present on site for citizens to complete their projects. For example, a citizen waiting on an inspector to complete a water heater installation should not be required to wait the same amount of time as a contractor who has over 50 complex inspections in the city’s queue.

Local governments are constantly looking for new ways to better serve their citizens and reduce wait times for inspections, so this switch could certainly contribute to an overall happier community. 

Some of the benefits of virtual inspections include:

  • Reduced wait times for citizens
  • A chance to inspectors to chip away at their inspection backlog right from the office (since smaller inspections will not require a trip to the site)
  • Reduced time to completion by eliminating drive time from the equation
  • Savings on fuel and vehicle maintenance

These savings can help put time and money back into other parts of your organization.

Create a virtual inspection process that works for you

Hundreds of government organizations are already leveraging the power of virtual inspections to streamline their workflow and reduce costs. And it’s not too late to revamp your inspection processes and start realizing the benefits, as well. This is where virtual inspection software comes in.

The City of Mount Vernon, Washington uses our SmartGov™ community development platform with the built-in community portal to incentivize citizens to request virtual inspections when they can. Citizens can schedule minor or interior inspections through the portal, connect to a city inspector via Skype or Facetime, and walk through the inspection with their official. 

Learn more about how the City of Mount Vernon is finding success in their virtual inspection process in their success story.

Want to provide additional flexibility to your citizens? Other organizations allow citizens to conduct their own inspections on a recorded video and share the video with their officials via email (or cloud storage for larger files). This allows inspectors to review videos in their queue and make notes to citizens on their community portal profile for additional requirements or notes. This process has been proven to reduce wait times for citizens and produces maximum flexibility of both inspectors and requestors. 

No matter how you choose to enable virtual inspections, make sure they meet the needs of your staff, citizens and technology. It’s important to start with a digital inspection platform that provides community engagement, permitting and inspection capability, and reporting to leverage all that virtual inspections can offer. 

Start the conversation with our knowledgeable experts to see how we can streamline your processes today!

Sources:

1 https://gcn.com/articles/2020/11/06/virtual-inspections.aspx 

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