At the American Planning Association conference in Minneapolis last week, I was struck by the number of e-government software vendors who had rented booths. Although there’s hundreds of vendors selling government software on the web, I thought it might be useful to post a list of those present at the conference. I can’t locate any good sources of reviews for these tools – does anyone have experience with them? Are there open source alternatives?
Represented at APA:
- Accela – Business process automation, GIS, transactions, permitting.
- CRW – Permitting, code, licensing, GIS
- enerGov Solutions – Process automation, GIS, permitting
- GovPartner – Citizen request management, permitting and planning, facility reservations
- InfoVision Software – Permitting, records and content management
- Infor Public Sector – Permitting, planning, asset management, request management, more
- MSGovern – Permitting, tax and billing, reports, service request management
- Municipal Software – Property information, permitting, inspections, licensing, transactions
- PermitSoft – Permitting, planning, code enforcement, licensing
- Software Consulting Associates – Code enforcement, permitting, property assessment, utility billing, tax collection
Although not at the conference, there are at least a couple others that seem worth mentioning:
- CitizenServe – Permitting, code enforcement, planning, request tracking, business licensing
- Interlocking Software – Permitting, code enforcement, business licensing, animal licensing
I have previously mentioned these:
- Adobe LiveCycle – Document management, form management
- Limehouse Software – Plan creation and consultation, some mapping and CMS functionality
- Microsoft Citizen Service Platform – CMS, request management, GIS, intranet
- Village Manager – Free property, people, and business database
In addition to the lack of good reviews of all of these tools, I have a couple additional observations. First, I am struck by the wide range of functionality. Although the vendors have tried to package their products in logical ways, clearly almost all are customized to the unique functions of local governments, which vary widely according to local law and practice. Second, although many claim to function as permit tracking systems, for all except LimeHouse Software the public participation and engagement is a secondary function, if they support it at all. As I have written previously, part of the reason this type of software has been slow to mature is that they must meet the unique needs of governments different from the private sector, among them transparency and civic collaboration. I think there remains a need for sophisticated software designed exclusively for civic engagement and collaboration in planning, ideally linked to administrative databases.
I should note that as part of a larger report on best practices in expedited permitting, the State of Massachusetts compiled a document on “Automated Permit Tracking Software: A Guide for Massachusetts Municipalities” (PDF), if readers are familiar with similar resources they are invited to post them below.