Enhancing Public Service: A Look at Rancho Cucamonga’s Streamlined Public Record Requests

5 min read
  • Government
  • Information Technology
  • Document & Records Management

The city clerk’s office for Rancho Cucamonga, California at one point was facing significant challenges when it came to records requests, with looming deadlines to fulfill requests and documents that could be anywhere – a physical file scanned into Laserfiche, a digital record buried in the Accela platform or lost altogether. However, the city’s situation changed thanks to a clever IT solution that transformed their public record request process.

In this post we’ll dive deep into the story of Kramer Sanders, an IT Applications Analyst for Rancho Cucamonga, and his team’s journey to streamline public record requests.

From paper to digital: a data management challenge

In 2014, Rancho Cucamonga embraced the digital age by launching Accela, a program that revolutionized building permit generation by leveraging GIS technology (built on Esri’s ArcGIS platform) and public data. This was a significant leap forward from their paper-based system, but it wasn’t without its challenges.

In the initial rush of excitement, the city made a crucial decision – they’d accept both physical and digital documents. While this seemed convenient at first, it created a hidden time bomb. Physical documents found their way into Laserfiche, a document management system, but digital documents remained scattered within Accela’s platform.

Fast forward a few years, and the city started facing the consequences. Public record requests became an administrative nightmare. Whenever a tight deadline was looming, clerks had to search through two separate systems, unsure where the requested documents resided. This inefficiency wasted valuable time and resources, creating frustration for both city employees and the public.

“Imagine getting a request that you have 10 days to figure out…where these records are coming from,” explains Kramer Sanders. “You’re not gonna be familiar with it. You’re probably gonna pull someone that is and it ends up taking a lot more time.”

Enter Velosimo and the power of automation

Kramer Sanders and his team knew they needed a solution. Their goal: consolidate all building permit documents into a single, easily searchable location. The answer came in the form of Velosimo, an integrated software as a service (iPaaS) platform. Because both Accela and Laserfiche offer compatibility with iPaaS platforms, Sanders was able to enable seamless communication between these applications through Velosimo.

With these integrations in place, an inspector could complete a final building inspection using the Accela mobile app, that triggers a pre-programmed workflow. This workflow then utilizes Accela scripting (powered by JavaScript) to automatically copy all associated digital documents from Accela.

These documents are then routed to a designated folder within Laserfiche. Every night, another automated workflow starts. It meticulously sorts the documents based on a logical system – street address and number.

Even more impressive is that the workflow doesn’t just move documents, it enriches them. By pulling metadata, or descriptive information about the content, from Accela, the system adds valuable context to each document within Laserfiche. This metadata becomes a powerful tool for future searches, making it significantly easier to locate specific documents.

Accomplishing goals in finding new efficiencies

The impact of integrating Velosimo was nothing short of transformative. It wasn’t just about convenience; it was about a fundamental shift in how the city handled public records.

After a successful implementation, the team embarked on a massive project. It migrated all remaining digital documents from Accela, dating back to 2014 — approximately 600GB of data, both compressed and uncompressed. This mammoth undertaking ensured all building permit documents resided in one central location – Laserfiche.

The payoff was immediate and measurable. City clerks and building administrators could now locate documents with ease. Gone were the days of frantic searches through two separate systems. This translated to a dramatic 50% reduction in processing time for public record requests.

“After talking through with many of them, it’s actually cut their time to serve public records requests in half,” says Sanders. “Huge for us.”

This efficiency boost not only saved the city valuable time and resources, but it also improved public service. Residents could now receive timely responses to their requests, fostering a sense of trust and transparency between the city and its constituents.

Beyond Rancho Cucamonga: lessons learned and the benefits of Collaboration

Kramer Sanders’ story is more than just a success story for Rancho Cucamonga. It’s a powerful case study showcasing the transformative potential of technology in streamlining government processes. The key takeaways are clear:

  1. Embrace automation: Repetitive tasks are ripe for automation. By leveraging tools like Velosimo and scripting, cities can free up valuable employee time for more strategic endeavors.
  1. Consolidate and centralize: Fragmented data storage creates chaos. Centralizing documents in a single, searchable location like Laserfiche empowers employees and fosters transparency, as Sanders highlights: “So now the city clerk and building admins can actually easily go through and find all these documents.”

  2. Metadata matters: Enriching documents with metadata makes them significantly more valuable. This allows for efficient searching and retrieval, saving time and effort in the long run.

The story of Rancho Cucamonga is also a testament to the power of collaboration. Kramer Sanders’ team, along with Accela and Velosimo, worked together to find a solution. This collaborative spirit extends beyond the immediate project. By sharing their experience, Sanders and his team are sparking a conversation within the broader municipal IT community. Their story serves as an inspiration for other cities facing similar challenges with document management and public record requests.

Here are some ways other municipalities can learn from Rancho Cucamonga’s experience:

  • Conduct a thorough needs assessment: Before diving into solutions, take stock of your current document management landscape. Identify pain points and areas ripe for improvement. This will help guide your search for the right technology and approach.
  • Evaluate existing technology: Don’t underestimate the power of existing systems. Explore integration possibilities between your current document management system and other relevant platforms, like building permit software. You might be surprised at the hidden potential within your existing infrastructure.
  • Embrace open standards: When choosing new technologies, consider solutions that leverage open standards. This allows for greater flexibility and future-proofing, fostering easier integration with existing systems.
  • Seek out partnerships: Collaboration is key. Look for technology vendors and partners who are willing to work with you to find a solution that meets your specific needs. Don’t be afraid to explore open-source options as well.

Kramer Sanders’ message is clear: there’s no need to fully reinvent the wheel. By learning from Rancho Cucamonga’s journey and adopting a strategic approach, other cities can achieve similar success stories.

Inspiring government to be future-forward

The story of Rancho Cucamonga clearly demonstrates how technology can empower governments to serve their citizens more effectively. By embracing automation, data centralization, and collaboration, cities can transform the public record request process from a frustrating chore to a seamless experience. This, in turn, fosters transparency, builds trust, and paves the way for a more efficient and responsive government for all.

Further reading

Eager to learn more about how Laserfiche can improve the everyday operations of government agencies and organizations? Visit our government solutions page.

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