Albany "citizen army" will help fight neighborhood blight

Wed, 2013-12-11 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Junk cars, out-of-control weeds, run down and abandoned buildings – they can all detract from a city's quality of life. And Albany, New York is determined to do something about them.

According to a report in the Times Union, the city will launch a web portal that provides a complete profile of all the buildings in the city and allows residents to track code violators and report issues.

"We want to get people involved so an issue does not become a crisis," said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who has been pushing for the technology for several years now.

The mountain of data that will be available with a click of a mouse will include everything from building permits to code violations as well as complaints that have been filed about abandoned buildings, potholes, weedy lots, etc. And it's not just Albany's "citizen army" that will be accessing the information and reporting problems. The portal will "break down silos," says the director of the city's buildings and regulatory compliance department, providing quick access to city personnel in other departments, such as police and fire.

The Times Union story says when the portal goes live next spring, users will be able to search for things like code complaints and construction permits by name, by address, by street or by a variety of other parameters. They will also be able to see what's being done about problems they report. The site will also allow contractors and residents to pay fees online.

Tyler Technologies out of Plano, Texas is being paid $172,000 to build the database and portal and operate it for the first year, then $36,000 after the first year to host and maintain the cloud-based solution.

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