The City of London
The Planning & Development Department of the city of London needed a new solution to track and store planning and building information.
“For the Planning Division, the information being processed was too much for the existing software program, and we were not getting support from our Technical Services Division, because the existing program was not intended to be used for such a large database. That’s really how it all started: the year 2000 and the fact that the database was ready to bust.”
– Maria Finnis, Coordinator, Planning & Development Department
The AMANDA platform was implemented to process building permits, site plans and zoning information. The Environmental Services department uses AMANDA to track various calls on a variety of issues.
This City of London conducted an extensive review of its database in 1997 and concluded that a new solution was needed to improve its efficiency.
The database and mainframe application used then was not efficient enough for the City’s needs. Undetermined functionality issues in the system made the problem worse. So, new software was needed.
”For the Planning Division, the information being processed was too much for the existing software program, and we were not getting support from our Technical Services Division, because the existing program was not intended to be used for such a large database. That’s really how it all started: the year 2000 and the fact that the legacy database was ready to bust.”
After analyzing all the options, the City chose CSDC System’s enterprise software solution, AMANDA, going live in 1999.
The City of London’s Planning Division is responsible for shaping London’s current and future growth; it processes development applications. AMANDA helps by providing up-to-date information to the Planning Division which processes requests from developers and home owners. The software maintains information on heritage properties, zoning bylaw amendments, official plan amendments, plus grant and loan programs. Within the subdivision application, AMANDA tracks all steps of the planning process for ongoing housing developments in the City.
“We use AMANDA for researching information on application activity. Our building office uses it for the processing of building permits and site plans, and to provide zoning information. In addition, the Environmental Service Department uses AMANDA in its call center operation to track various calls on a variety of issues. AMANDA is used as a hub to access information mainly by property address – if someone comes in with a property-related question, staff know to go to AMANDA to locate information.”
AMANDA is integrated with Maps and GIS links. Archived information is integrated into the system in the form of converted files from the old mainframe program. Zoning information is available for property queries, on the phone or over the counter.
All information can be viewed using mapping technology. It shows properties in relation to the properties around it and displays multiple layers of mapping information, from the streets to the sewers and watermains. Call Center personnel answer questions by accessing online information, and deal with complaints by processing various types of work orders.
The software solution also enables e-service planning data to be available online to London residents 24/7.
Citizens can navigate to the City website, access the e-services area and search for Planning and Building information with the online information inquiry, then navigate through using the municipal address, or in some cases the file number. The website is accessing AMANDA for that information.
AMANDA is used to track and process applications. Once an application is received, it is entered into AMANDA as a general application type meant specifically to track incoming applications. It is then forwarded to a section manager within the division, who assigns a planner to the application. From that point, each step in the process is defined through various applications (folders) and tracked using AMANDA. This enables the staff to check the status of an application at any time. With changes in legislation altering the Planning Division’s application review process, the City Council supports a more efficient and accountable file management. AMANDA provides the most appropriate means of improving application tracking and reporting.
The folders in AMANDA may require further review and modification from time to time to keep the Division’s tracking system current on an ongoing basis. For example, recent changes to the consent folder were required in order to modify various processes to improve the tracking of applications and include legislative changes. A step in the planning folder was added to create a ‘child folder’ for the Environmental Services Department to track an application.
AMANDA also helps the Planning & Development staff communicate with other departments and divisions and keeps them updated with ongoing developments as property matters move through the city branches.
Future expectations for London’s Planning Division include a shift in the assignment of subdivision applications, along with a revamping of the Subdivision Folder to include the Environmental Services Department processes. This enables a single person to follow an application from start to finish within the system. Finnis also anticipates that the Planning Division may improve its processes further with the use of AMANDA’s Planning Module.