Exploring the Benefits of an Open Systems Paradigm  for Building Permit Technologies in Local Governments of Florida

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Exploring the Benefits of an Open Systems Paradigm for Building Permit Technologies in Local Governments of Florida
Papajorgji, Juna
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (224 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Design, Construction, and Planning
Design, Construction and Planning
Committee Chair:
Zwick, Paul D
Committee Co-Chair:
Bejleri, Ilir
Committee Members:
Schneider, Richard H
Mao, Liang
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Building codes ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Counties ( jstor )
Fees ( jstor )
Local governments ( jstor )
Maintenance costs ( jstor )
Open source ( jstor )
Open systems ( jstor )
Software ( jstor )
Vendors ( jstor )
Design, Construction and Planning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Urban and Regional Planning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
governance -- local -- open -- source
Alachua County ( local )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
Design, Construction, and Planning thesis, Ph.D.


This dissertation proposes a new paradigm for Florida’s building permit computational technologies based on Open Systems. It hypothesizes that given Florida’s uniform building code, steering Florida’s local governments towards an Open Systems paradigm for building permit technologies, creates the conditions for transformative improvements in delivery of services, significant cost-savings of public expenditures, and an increase in governmental transparency. To test this thesis, this dissertation uses qualitative research, built from interpretation of existing information. It evaluates a building permit and inspection computerized system developed with an open paradigm by Alachua County, utilizing data from 2000 to 2009. It then reviews building permit technologies used by local governments of the State of Florida, examining their level of adoption of the open paradigm. Results for the Alachua County confirm that Open Systems lead to better quality, lower cost, and more transparency. ·  The Open System has transformed the process of permitting, inspections, and code enforcement, and it has established a higher standard for data quality, and integrity. ·  For an eight year time span, the Open System has introduced a cost saving of $1.43 million. ·  The Open System has established a degree of operational transparency where the entire process of permitting and inspection, and its entire data repository created over the years, is publicly available in real time, to anyone, anywhere. This same degree of transparency also applies to the product itself, as the Open System is in the public domain.   Results for the State of Florida show that the extent of use of proprietary systems is pervasive, and that the scale of parallel acquisitions by local governments from the same vendor is high. They prove that improvements in governmental services, and in the democratization of public data and processes, can be obtained by transitioning to contemporary open paradigms, and which also meaningfully include the users. This study proposes the expansion of the current paradigm of procurement, acquisition, and development for building permit and inspection technologies by local governments of Florida, to formally embrace the Open Systems method as an equal or perhaps better alternative than the proprietary one. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
General Note:
Adviser: Zwick, Paul D.
General Note:
Co-adviser: Bejleri, Ilir.
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Statement of Responsibility:
by Juna Papajorgji.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright by Juna Papajorgji. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2 201 3 Juna Goda Papajorgji


3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS During t he course of t his work, I discovered a body of research that cover s a nation less movement of internet activism, mostly led by dissident youth of the western world. At the forefront of a digitally driven contemporary societal transformation and away from conventional headlines, these youth are risking their welfare and comfort, in order to highlight the ob solescence of the present proprietary models, with their revolutionary ideas and brave quests for open government and more public freedoms. To them, I am deeply thankful. To Dr. Paul Zwick, the chair of my committee, I remain uniquely grateful. After so ma ny years, his exceptional wit and innate mentorship still compels me to improve. I heartily thank Dr. Ilir Bejleri, for his help, trust, and collegiality. I thank Dr. Richard Schneider, for his genuine support of my work. The affinity of topics, between hi s dissertation and this work, helped me consolidate my views, and deepen my understanding. I also thank Dr. Liang Mao for his contribution. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Kristen Larsen, the chair of the department, who so ever gently and promptly impeccably accommodated my needs for resources, during this period. At the GeoPlan center, Alma Othman ABD and Dr. Jun Zhao, were invaluable for sharing their insight and experience from their own dissertations research by promptly answering my mid night and often m undane questions. To the staff and students, at the GeoPlan center, who offered me reassuring reception during times of trials, I am also grateful. At the Family Data Center, for the financial stability I much needed to complete this work, I am indebted to Dr. Nancy Hardt, and to Dr. Jeffrey Roth.


4 In Alachua County Government, I am indebted to the building officials Carol Hurst (retired), Phil Dunnington (retired), and John Freeland, and to the building inspectors, code enforcement inspectors, and the GIS s taff. They placed their trust in me and heartily embarked on a road less traveled to create their own computational system. Critical to their success was Rick Drummond, the director of the Growth Management de partment (now County Manager). F or his vision and for the stability that he provided, I remain immensely grateful. I am also uncertain how this dissertation would have shaped, without the sustenance of two good friends: Dr. Frank C. Chung, and Dr. John M. Owens. Their constant guardianship and ever p res ent counsel during this process and their genuine I most peculiarly thank my delicate daughter and her husband, and my blood family in many lands. But more than anyone, I thank the influence of my father, founder of the College of Pharmacy of the first university of Albania, named after him.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 3 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 12 Local Governments in Florida ................................ ................................ ................. 14 Open Systems, Open Source, and Open Technologies ................................ ......... 15 Closed Systems, Proprietary Technologies ................................ ............................ 16 Problem Statement ................................ ................................ ................................ 16 Research Purpose ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 18 Research Significance ................................ ................................ ............................ 19 Summary and Description of Chapters ................................ ................................ ... 21 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 22 Local Government Planning Implementation ................................ .......................... 22 Growth Management ................................ ................................ ........................ 24 Administrative Efficiency ................................ ................................ ................... 24 Budgeting and Finance ................................ ................................ .................... 25 Service Improvements ................................ ................................ ...................... 26 Transparency in Urban Governance ................................ ................................ 28 Transpa rency as a principle of good urban governance ............................ 31 Transparency and civic engagement ................................ ......................... 31 Transparency and accountability ................................ ............................... 32 Information Technology ................................ ................................ .................... 32 Types of planning data ................................ ................................ ............... 32 Sources of planning data ................................ ................................ ........... 33 Data and information ................................ ................................ .................. 34 Information products ................................ ................................ .................. 35 The Ope n Source Paradigm ................................ ................................ ................... 38 Free and Open Source Software Defined ................................ ......................... 39 Origin of Open Source ................................ ................................ ...................... 41 Legal Framework of Open Source ................................ ................................ .... 42 Proprietary Software and Vendor Lock in ................................ ......................... 43 Open Source and Open Governm ent ................................ ............................... 48 State of Open Source in Government ................................ .............................. 51


6 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 54 3 RESEAR CH DESIGN AND METHOD ................................ ................................ .... 57 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 57 Case Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 58 Unit of Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ 59 Collection of Data and Evidence ................................ ................................ ...... 61 The Building Permit Process and Public Safety ................................ ............... 63 Building Code Administrators and Inspectors ................................ ............ 65 The Florida Building Codes ................................ ................................ ........ 67 Web Services and G eoWeb Services ................................ .............................. 69 Research Method ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 72 Alachua County Government ................................ ................................ .................. 72 Organizational background ................................ ................................ ............... 73 The proprietary system ................................ ................................ ..................... 73 The open system suite ................................ ................................ ..................... 78 GeoWeb building permits tracker ................................ ............................... 8 5 GeoWeb code enforcement tracker ................................ ........................... 88 GeoWeb impact fee calculator ................................ ................................ ... 91 GeoGreen mapper ................................ ................................ ..................... 93 The open system architecture ................................ ................................ .......... 95 The open system proce ss of development ................................ ....................... 97 Comparing the two systems ................................ ................................ ............. 99 Quality of services ................................ ................................ .................... 100 Cost ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 104 Transparency ................................ ................................ ........................... 108 Florida Local Governments ................................ ................................ ................... 112 Population distribution in Florida ................................ ................................ .... 113 ............................. 115 Sample of other local governm ents ................................ ................................ 120 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 123 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 125 Alachua County ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 125 Florida ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 140 5 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 148 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 148 Limitations and Future Research ................................ ................................ .......... 154 Recommendations ................................ ................................ ................................ 157


7 APPENDIX A ALACHUA COUNTY GEOWEB BUILD ING PERMIT TRACKER ......................... 161 B ALACHUA COUNTY GEOWEB CODE ENFORCEMENT TRACKER .................. 175 C ALACHUA COUNTY GEOWEB IMPACT FEE CALCULATOR ............................ 178 D ALACHUA COUNTY GEOGREEN MAPPER ................................ ....................... 181 E RECOGNITIONS FOR THE ALACHUA COUNTY BUILDING PERMIT SUITE .... 184 F ALACHUA COUNTY BUILDING PERMIT SUITE OF IN OPERATION ................ 192 G EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH PUBLIC AGENCIES ................................ ... 195 H ALACHUA COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER ................................ ............ 196 I MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT AGREEMENT ................................ ................. 198 J ALACHUA COUNTY 1 ST BUILDING OF FICIAL LETTER ................................ ..... 202 K ALACHUA COUNTY 2 ND BUILDING OFFICIAL LETTER ................................ ..... 204 L ALACHUA COUNTY ASSISTANT BUILDING OFFICIAL LETTER ...................... 205 M SOLE SOURCE CERTIFICATION ................................ ................................ ........ 206 N EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH VENDOR ................................ .................... 207 O ALACHUA COUNTY 2009 BUDGET PERFORMANCE MEASURES .................. 209 P ALACHUA COUNTY PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT POLICIES .................. 210 Q CITY OF TAMPA C ONTRACT SAMPLE PAGE ................................ ................... 211 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 212 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 223


8 LIST OF TABLES Table pa ge 3 1 Quality of service comparison indicators ................................ .......................... 103 3 2 Cost comparison indicators ................................ ................................ .............. 106 3 3 Transparency comparison indicators ................................ ................................ 111 3 4 Florida local governments with the same closed system as Alachua County ... 116 3 5 Population of cities with the same closed system as Alachua County. ............. 117 3 6 Florida local government variables and units of measurement ......................... 123 4 1 Indicator results for the proprietary system cost (2000 2008) ........................... 132 4 2 Indicator results for the o pen system cost (2000 2008) ................................ .... 133 4 3 Indicator results for the proprietary system transparency ................................ 137 4 4 Indicator results for the open system transparency ................................ .......... 139 4 5 Indicator results for sample cities ................................ ................................ ..... 142 4 6 Indicator results for sample counties ................................ ................................ 143


9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure p age 1 1 Counties and Municipalities in the State of Florida ................................ ............. 14 3 1 Alachua County Unit of Analysis ................................ ................................ ......... 60 3 2 GeoWeb Building Permit Tracker functionality poster ................................ ..... 80 3 3 GeoWeb Building Permit Tracker portal ................................ .......................... 81 3 4 GeoWeb Code Enforcement Tracker portal ................................ ..................... 82 3 5 GeoWeb Impact Fee Calculator portal ................................ ............................. 83 3 6 GeoG reen Mapper portal ................................ ................................ ................. 84 3 7 Systems architecture ................................ ................................ .......................... 96 3 8 Florida counties by population size. ................................ ................................ .. 113 3 9 Florida counties by population density. ................................ ............................. 114 3 10 Florida counties, cities, and large cities. ................................ ........................... 115 3 11 Florida local governments with the same closed system as Alachua County. .. 117 3 12 Florida counties by population density, large cities, and cities with the same closed system as Ala chua County. ................................ ................................ ... 118 3 13 Florida counties by population size overlaid with counties with the same closed system as Alachua County. ................................ ................................ ... 119 3 14 Florida counties by population density overlaid with counties with the same closed system as Alachua County. ................................ ................................ ... 120 3 15 Florida counties by population density overlaid with the three co unties and the three cities in our sample. ................................ ................................ ........... 121


1 0 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Ph ilosophy EXPLORING THE BENEFITS OF AN OPEN SYSTEMS PARADIGM FOR BUILDING PERMIT TECHNOLOGIES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS OF FLORIDA By Juna Goda Papajorgji May 201 3 Chair: Paul Zwick Co chair: Ilir Bejleri Major: Design, Construction, and Planning This dissert computational technologies based on Open Systems. It hypothesizes that given Systems paradigm for building per mit technologies creates the conditions for t ransformative improvements in deli very of services, significant cost savings of public expenditures, and an increase in governmental transparency. To test this thesis, this dissertation uses qualitative resear ch, built from interpretation of existing information. It evaluates a building permit and inspection computerized system developed with an open paradigm by Alachua County, utilizing data from 2000 to 2009 It then reviews buildi ng permit technologies used by local governments of the State of Florida examining the ir level of adoption of the open paradigm. Results for the Alachua County confirm that Open Systems lead to better quality, lower cost, and more transparency.


11 The Open System has transformed the process of permitting, inspections, and code enforcement and it has established a higher standard for data quality and integrity F or an eight year time span the Op en System has introduced a cost saving of $1.4 3 million The Open Sy stem has established a degree of operational transparency where the entire process of permitting and inspection, and its entire data repository created over the years, is publicly available in real time, to anyone, anywhere. This same degree of transparency also applies to th e product itself, as the Open System is in the public domain. Results for the State of Florida show that the extent of use of proprietary systems is pervasive, and that the scale of parallel acquisitions by local governments from the same vendor is high. They prove that improvements in governmental services, and in the democratization of pub lic data and processes c an be obtained by transitioni ng to contemporary open paradigms and which also meaningfully include the users. This study proposes the expansio n of the current paradigm of procurement, acquisi tion, and development for building permit and inspection technologies by local governments of Florida, to formally embrace the Open Systems method as an equal or perhaps better alternative than the proprieta ry one.


12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION When technology evolves quickly, society can find itself left behind, trying to catch up on ethical, legal, and social implications. -Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the web In Florida, the Building Construction industry is regulated by state law. In March of 2002, a statewide uniform building code known as the Florida Building Code (Florida Department of Community Affairs, 2002), was introduced. Florida Statutes give the authority to adopt and to update this code to the Florida Building Commission, 1 and the authority to implement it to local governments. In general, local governments delegate this authority to their planning departments, who oversee building construction (permitting, inspection, and code enforcement) oper ations and who ensure protection of public safety Presently, most of the planning departments in Florida, manage their permitting, inspection, and code enforcement operations with costly and proprietary computational technologies (software and databases ), despite the wide and successful adoption by governments worldwide of Open Source and Open Technologies in the past decade (Wheeler 2007, Schindler 2008, Ward and Tao 2009). Typically, a local government manages building permit and inspection operations through a software system provided by a contracted vendor with little room for renegotiation of the contract. The vendor maintains full ownership of the technology and has exclusive, absolute control over its 1 The Florida Legislation. (2011) Specific Powers of the Commission The 2011 Florida Statutes. Retrieved D ecember 24, 2011. From 0 0599/0553/Sections/0553.77.html


13 use, price, and functionality. The local govern ment is not provided access to the inner workings of the system, or allowed to make any changes to it. By operating under these non competitive conditions, the vendor has no incentive to improve on the performance of the system, or to enhance its functiona lity and its cost effectiveness, as the cost to the local government for changing vendors is prohibitively very high. 2 This model results in the prolonged use of outdated technologies, a stagnant organizational knowledge and culture, and an opaque system p urchased with public funds, which is entirely insulated from public scrutiny. In addition, with 478 local governments in the State of Florida, 3 each in potentially independent contracts with vendors, state wide expenditures for duplicate building and permi tting technologies are significant, in spite of a statewide uniform building code. Furthermore, these proprietary systems hinder the power of human cooperation and collaboration, which are the (Benkle r, 2005), critical long term shift caused by the internet (Benkler, 2005), and that Benkler coins Meanwhile, the world of information technology has been rapidly advancing towards greater o penness, utilizing more Ope n Systems and Open Technologies, which the history of human race (Shirky, 2008). 2 Upfront costs for Building Permit technologies fluctuate between $250,00 0 and $1,000,000. These costs are only a fraction of their total lifecycle cost (The Open Planning Project, 2007 & Appendix F ). 3 Florida League of Cities, Inc. (n.d.). My City: Facts on Florida Cities. The Florida League of Cities, Inc. Retrieved October 14, 2011. From


14 The internet, which represents the defining moment of th e past decade, was developed as an Open Source (Berners Lee and innovate and share, if they want to, by themselves or with others (Benkler, 2005). This adoption of Open Systems is also a natural fit for open govern ments, which in the United States, and especially in Florida, are strongly regulated to provide open records, open meetings, and transparency. Local Governments in Florida Local governments are the smallest units in the Florida system of government. They a re administratively independent from the State Government or the Federal Government. As of 2011, there are 67 counties and 411 municipalities in the State of Florida (Figure 1 1 ). Figure 1 1. Counties and Municipalities in the State of Florida Municipal ities may be called cities, towns, or villages, with no legal distinction across these terms. Cities, towns, or villages, generally cover mutually exclusive areas and counties overlap with them. Typically, municipalities provide essential services for


15 thei r own area of jurisdiction, while counties provide essential services to the unincorporated area (Hoch, Dalton, & So, 2000). Some additional services may be provided countywide, including within municipalities, by county governments. Planning and building services, which include the review of construction plans, permitting, inspections, and enforcement of building codes, are considered essential services and are generally provided separately by counties and municipalities. Sometimes, local governments enter into inter local agreements with each other for the provision of these services. Open Systems, Open Source, and Open Technologies Open Systems 4 is a general term used for describing computer systems or products that provide a mixture of interoperability, portability, and open software standards. In a more contemporary context, they are systems that allow for user contribution, manipulation, editing, unlimited use, reuse, and expansion. Their programming language may or may not be proprietary. Open Source o r Open Source Software (OSS) is a model of development and distribution of non proprietary computer software that promotes access to the product's source material via specific licensing and legal frameworks. This software development model promotes and is based on contributions from a peer review and transparent process. The promise of Open Source, according to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) 5 flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock in pract 4 servers (McKee, L. (2005) 5 At present, OSI ( ), a non profit corporation with a global scope based in California, is the primary arbiter of what constitutes Open Source software.


16 Technology refers to practices for development and implementation of computational technologies in a non proprietary way that are enabled by the Internet and related technologies. The four key components for Open Technology are: Open Standards and Interfaces Open Source Software and Designs Online Collaborative and Distributed Tool s and Technological Agility (modular design facilitating reuse) Closed Systems, Proprietary Technologies In contrast with Open Systems, Closed Systems are systems that do not allow users to change or to add on to them. They frequently are not compatible with other products and they are usually proprietary. A Proprietary System, or Proprietary Software, is computer software or a software system which is copyrighted a nd for which the holder has exclusive legal rights. The licensee (user) is given the right to use the software under restricted conditions, and is prohibited from replication, modification, distribution, or reverse engineering. Vendors typically limit the number of computers on which the software can be used, and price the product based on the number of users. In contrast, most Open Source software does not have associated license fees and the he Open Source licenses are not concerned with the mode of use or the scale of the system. In contrast, the proprietary licenses focus on the use of the software in terms of size, scale, or type of permitted use and their license fee increases proportional ly with the use of the system. Frequently though, systems are a combination of closed and open. Problem Statement Studies about the role of Open Systems within the United States local governments are rare (Cassell, 2010). Most of them are typically concern ed with general investigations of Open Source Software as opposed to Open Systems, and they


17 usually limit their investigations to three areas: (1) backend infrastructure (servers and web servers), (2) operati ng systems, and (3) generic applications (softwa re and databases). These studies also mostly consider these topics from the perspective of an perspective of an end user specific service that is similarly provided by several organizations, and which is similar to how the private sector models its services. Very few studies, if any, have investigated the feasibility of Open Systems in local governments, with a focus on end user applications (software and databases) only and as they apply to a specific service that is statutorily regulated across many local governments. This dissertation aims to propose operational technologies (software and databases) based on Open Systems an d on Florida Open Systems paradigm for building permit technologies, opens up opportunities for (a) a drastic increase in governmental tr ansparency, (b) transformative improvements in delivery of services, and (c) significant cost savings of public expenditures. To test this hypothesis, this dissertation evaluates as a case study, a building permit and inspection computational system 6 deve loped by the Alachua County GIS 6 The development of the Alachua County Buildin g Permit system suite was the initiative of this author during her tenure as the GIS Manager of Alachua County. She led the process of conceiving, designing, and developing the four components of the system to its full implementation by involving building officials, building inspectors, code inspectors, and the de velopment community (Appendices A B, C, D, pages 178 198 ).


18 Division with a Participatory Design and Open Source and Open Systems approach. It reviews building permit technologies presently used by planning departments in local government s of the State of Florida, and it examines th eir level of adoption of Open So urce and Open Technologies. It analyzes data from the Al achua County Growth Management d epartment from 2000 to 2009 and from Building and D evelopment departments in local governments of the State of Florida for 2012 Resear ch Purpose Technology provides value by enabling users to reach their objectives more efficiently. Sometimes these objectives include not just meeting requirements, but also meeting them in a more robust and in a more effective way. Objectives of cost effe ctiveness, openness and transparency of operations and information, and expansion and improvement of e services, are part of the fundamental goals of local governance, whose is to serve its people in the most accountable way. In 2009, the Code Enforcement component of the Alachua County Building Permit system received two awards from the National Association of Counties: a NACo Achievement Award and a Best Nationwide in the Information Technology Cate gory Award from the (Appendix E, pages 203 & 204 ). In 2008, the Permits and Inspections component of the Alachua County Building Permit System received an ICMA Excellence Award from the International City and C ounty Management Association, a NACo Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties, and an Innovation in Communication and Technology Award by the Florida City and County Man agement Association (Appendix E, pages 205 & 20 6). In November of 2 008, the Government Technology Magazine featured a component of the Building Permit system in an article titled: GeoGreen Mapper an Interactive Green Map for Alachua County, Florida (Appendix E, page 207 ). In November of 2008, the local newspaper of Alac hua County published an article about this system, with interviews from key leaders in the local building construction industry, from the private, nonprofit, and g overnmental sectors (Appendix E page 20 8 ). To date, all four components of the Alachua Count y Building Permit system continue to operate successfully. They are also used by students of the University of Florida Building Construction as part of their class curriculum (Appendix F, pages 209 & 211 ).


19 Proposing a be tter model for building permit operational technologies in the State of Florida that complies more clo sely with fundamental principles of local governments and with technological trends of our times, is the purpose of this dissertation. It intends to acc omplish this goal by offering a new paradigm for procuring, developing, and maintaining these technol ogies. The proposed paradigm, would be substantially more cost ef ficient than the current one; would be based on more contemporary approaches of software p rocurement, software development, and software use; it would take into account the fairly recent landmark in the building construction industry in Florida, of instituting a statewide standardized building code; and it would present evidence of significant improvements in service delivery and governmental transparency. This research is concerned with investigating and demonstrating both the superiority of the concept of an Open Systems paradigm as it relates to local governance and the feasibility of the new paradigm as it relates to its actual implementation and performance. Research Significance In essence this study intends to highlight an ancient relationship in human history: new technological capabilities and technological progress versus old and restr aining regulatory powers that lag behind. In the long term, the results of this dissertation can support initiatives for local or statewide policy improvements that would facilitate and encourage the adoption of a more effective and more contemporary parad igm for building permit and inspection technologies in the State of Florida. The need for such policy improvement is amplified


20 In model provides for a two fold contribution towards improvement of practices and policies in local governments of Florida. This contribution applies to method and to product. Method: This dissertation will show how individual local governments (or a consortium of them), can replicate or adopt the Open Source and Open Technology development and procurement model shaped by Alachua County. It will show how they can mix closed systems with ope n systems to implement incremental change, and how they can meaningfully engage users in the process of system development. Product: In Florida, construction activities are uniformly standardized statewide. This makes operations and services of the constru ction technology very similar across local governments. This dissertation will demonstrate how each of these local governments (or a consortium of them), can draw an immediate benefit from reuse or ct in the public domain and hence free to all. Although t he focus of this research are the building permit technologies in the State of Florida, the significance of this study is not necessarily limited to the State of Florida 7 or to building permit techno logies alone. The findings of this study about the concept and the feasibility of the open paradigm can be applied to any public organization or type of their operations. 7 In April of 2010, Harris County in Texas, the th ird most populous county in the US with a population of 4.1 million and the county seat of Houston, investigated the possibility of implementing the Alachua nd inspection model (Appendix G ). In August of 2009, the Millennium Chall enge Corporation (a US foreign aid agency created by Congress Threshold Program, Stage II, for institutionalizing key reforms in pu blic administration (A ppendix G ).


21 Summary and Description of Chapters This dissertation will evaluate a building permit and inspection system developed by the Alachua County GIS Division with a Participatory Design and Open Systems approach, and it will analyze data and documentation from the Alachua County Growth Management Department from 2000 to 2009. It will review bui lding permit technologies and related procurement practices presently used by planning departments in local governments of the State of Florida, and it will examine their level o f adoption of Open Systems. The purpose of this work is to demonstrate that g building code, shifting to an Open Systems paradigm for building permitting technologies, provides for a drastic increase in governmental transparency, for transformative improvements in delivery of services, and for significant cost savings in public expenditures in the State of Florida. This chapter introduced key variables and gave a general description of the scope and purpose of this research. Chapter 2 introduces related theories and research from the literature. Chapter 3 descr ibes the research design and the methodology used for this exploratory research. Chapter 4 presents discusses and presents the results Chapter 5 provides conclusions, limitations, and recommendations.


22 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW We have seen that great militancy implies predominance of compulsory co operation, and that great industrialness implies predomin ance of voluntary co operation. -Herbert Spencer, philosopher (1883) The programmers found that unrestricted cooperation made it easy for everyone to contribute. No price tags kept others away. No stereotypes or biases excluded anyone. The software and the source code were on the Net for anyone to read. -Peter Wayner, author of (2000) Research and literature related to Local Governm ent Planning Implementation and to the Open Source Paradigm provide the theoretical framework for this study. For Local Government Planning Implementation this research falls under the following topics: Growth Management, Administrative Efficiency, Budgeti ng and Finance, Service Improvement, Transparency in Urban Governance, and Information Technology. For the Open Source Paradigm this research falls under the following sub categories: Free and Open Source, Origin of Open Source, Legal Framework of Open Sou rce, Proprietary Software and Vendor Lock in, Open Source in Government, and State of Open Source in Government. The following is a broad review of the literature on these topics, aiming to clarify definitions, and to contextualize and position this study. Local Government Planning Implementation larger political institutions (Hoch, Dalton, & So, 2000). In the United States, at the federal level, a planning department or a plann ing office does not exist. Nevertheless, many national programs, agencies, policies, and regulations, include planning


23 requirements (Hoch, Dalton, & So, 2000), and many programs implemented by local governments (such as neighborhood stabilization or wildli fe protection), must comply with federal guidelines. Similarly, although state governments provide local governments (counties and municipalities) with legal planning authorities, there are certain planning activities over which the states retain control. These planning activities differ largely from one state to another. 1 They could be developments or transportation corridors of a regional scale, or mandated specific features or processes. One of the earliest and strongest examples of state legislation (F oresman, 1998) for statewide planning and growth management was directed a strong top down approach, requiring that development must be concurrent with available infra structure. Florida is one of the three states in the United States that has a track of strong, state level control over Growth Management (Nyerges, & Jankowski, 2010), and over standards for building permits, inspections, and code enforcement. The 1998 Flo rida Legislature amended Chapter 553, Florida Statutes, Building Construction Standards, to create a single statewide building code that is enforced by local governments and it is called the Florida Building Code. This new top down approach to the building construction regulatory system followed a series of natural disasters that revealed inconsistencies of local building codes across the state, and whose inadequacy proved costly during emergency response. In March 1 of 2002, the 1 In the United States, 11 states have enacted growth management laws, and others are u nder Three states Florida, New Jersey, and Oregon have been using top down controls, eight states use bottom up control, 27 states have a role in growth management, 13 have no


24 aced the Standard Building Code (Gurley, Masters, 2011), and supersedes all local building codes. The Florida Building Code is updated every three years by the Florida Building Commission, but local governments may amend the code with more stringent requi rements, under rigorously defined conditions. Growth Management Growth management offers a broad assortment of regulations, incentives, and agreements that integrate planning principles into the process of community building (Nelson, A.C., 2000). Its objec tive is to direct market driven development towards outcomes that are environmentally sound, fiscally efficient, and socially just, as opposed management implements its goals by c ombining a range of regulatory, financial, and land use management tools and techniques, such as long range plans, land development regulations, zoning ordinances, permitting processes, etc. One of its main goals is to provide administrative efficiency whi le implementing these techniques. Administrative E fficiency The key components of a well developed growth management system are characterized by a level of administrative complexity that if it is not carried out effectively, can hinder the implementation of these processes or of the development itself (Nelson, 2000). Delays in the growth management process can leave developers may make them move development to less s uitable areas, 2 or it may cause them to 2 (D ueker, K. J. (1990) The Exurbanization of America with Planning Policy Implications (Journal of Planning Education and Research 9; 91 100).


25 abandon development altogether. In either case, market needs may not be fulfilled, and the relationship between supply and demand may be negatively affected. agement policy implementation are critical in determining their effectiveness (Ben gston, Fletcher, Nelson, 2004). Growth management systems that are efficiently administered, in a transparent, timely, and cost effective manner, make development easier, mo re predictable, and less time consuming. Developers accomplish their goals, markets meet their needs, and citizens understand where their taxes go (Nelson, 2000). A well known strategy for providing administrative efficiency is the streamlined permitting p rocedure, which by itself is composed of many techniques. Budgeting and Finance others require funding for implementation (Hamin, Steere, & Sweetser, 2006). T he techniques (such as streamlining of permits) that carry out the strategies for increase of administrative efficiency, depend on budget and finance decisions, which overall, can help improve the prospects of implementing plans. Thus, budget and finance decisions are not sim ply ways of raising and spending money; they help shape the future of regions (Lucy, & Fisher, 2000). Local government revenues come from many sources. According to the October 2011 report published by the Census Bureau, 3 4.3 percent of local government r evenues in 2009 came from federal sources, and a portion of the 31.8 percent revenue 3 U.S. Census Bureau. (October 2011) State and Local Government Finances Summary: 2009 U.S. Census Bureau. Last re trieved December 28, 2011. From


26 received by the states from the federal government, was passed through to local governments. Other sources include user charges, intergovernmental grants, tax increment fi nancing, federal and state governments, etc. But the predominant revenue source remains the property tax. It is both revenues and expenditures that impact the decisions of planners for making improvements to administrative efficiency. Increases and decreas es in service quality are set as priorities during budget developments, which are based on revenues and expenditures. Quite often, while balancing declining revenues and increased expenditures, local governments must become inventive in finding ways to fun d service improvements. Service Improvements Service improvements are broadly categorized in: efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness, and equity. The following are definitions for each, as provided by Lucy and Fisher (2000) Efficiency has two separate meanings. Services are efficient economically if the combination of quantity, quality, distribution, and prices matches consumer demand. This definition of efficiency applies to the public sector as well, albeit the absence of a direct pricing system for many services makes it difficult to measure. Engineering efficiency on the other hand, means that services are being provided at a given quantity and quality for the least cost. This concept allows for a more objective analysis of governmental services, e specially since competitive pricing does


27 not generally apply to these services. 4 Engineering efficiency must include a time dimension for the notion of least cost to be applied rightly. For example, a time dimension for a computer based product could be it s lifecycle cost. Effectiveness measures if the service achieves the intended goal. Effectiveness can be measured with result indicators. For example, the number of building permits issued within the expected time frames regardless of unanticipated complex ities is a measure of effectiveness. Adequate planning outcomes (IPART, 1997, p. 98) could be another. Responsiveness merges economic and political concerns. While efficiency implies responsiveness to consumer demand, responsiveness shows the extent to whi ch a service reflects the preferences of politically active citizens or businesses. Equity measures the dimension of fairness. Policies based on efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness may or may not be considered fair. While not easy to put into ope ration, three concepts come handy when measuring equity: equality, need, and demand. An equality example could be to provide building permit centers that are equally distributed spatially throughout the community. An example of need could be to provide a m ore tailored service to a needy neighborhood. In this case, need is addressed by employing an unequal treatment to reach a more equitable result. And demand can be conceived as being, positive, neutral, or negative. An example of demands that would negativ ely impact the equity measures could be from a group of 4 w, which


28 active citizens who ask for services for their neighborhood that are not provided to others. gton and Dollery (2000), show how to use a nonparametric approach to measure efficiency. They examine technical and scale efficiency for planning and regulatory services in local governments of New South Wales (a state in Australia), and they argue that in efficiency and effectiveness in local public service provision, this process can be used for accurate and meaningful measures of local government efficiency for the purposes of comparative performance asse the findings can be linked back to policies or services to help with their further improvement. For example, if the measure shows a failure to achieve an optimal scale of operations in the provision of plan ning services, a greater degree of resource sharing and regional co operation could be encouraged, and perhaps even budgetary justified. Transparency in Urban Governance Over time, an essential tool for planners has become consensus building. This has co reduction in trust of elected and appointed officials by a public that feels increasingly frustrated, angry, and shut out (William, 2000). Consequently, citizen advocates and interest groups, ask more and more for meaningful participation in the decision making process. And one of the important principles of consensus building is to share credible information. Facts and figures play a major role in an honest consensus building process and public participation cannot be effective without easy access to a wide array of data and documentation that is credible, reliable, and understandable (Ames, 1998).


29 The World Development Report (The World Bank, 2012) emphasizes that rategic communication reduce information asymmetries, promote a more effective public debate, and enable the exploration of public policy issues from In the United States, federal, state and local governments have been forced open by hard fought victories. This is especially true in Florida, where government in the sunshine laws are some of the strongest public records laws in the country (The Florida Senate, 2010). They replace, and are slightly different, from the federal law know n as the Freedom of Information Act which protects request for information rights (Bowen, 2009). The continuing (and sometime fierce) campaigns for open records and open gove rnment is about who controls access to public records and under what circumstances, and puts a premium on information sharing, transparency, and ultimately, public accountability (Center for Digital Government, 2004). Furthermore, access to information human right from the International Council on Human Rights Policy 5 (ICHRP, 2002). Governments are mandated with several responsibilities for the transparent provision of information. As define d by Andrew (2010), the following principles guide those responsibilities: 5 The International Council on Human Rights Policy is a Switzerland based non profit foundation that


30 Access for all If sharing documents or interacting with an agency requires a software purchase, the agency effectively discriminates against some of its constituents on economic or technological grounds. Vendor Independence To require sof tware from a particular source, whether or not the source charges for it, is a form of unfair favoritism. Archiving Agencies must preserve many documents for long periods of time. A vendor, at its own discretion, can stop supporting a non open format at any time. developed information sys tems that assist decision making, important decisions are made based on face to face exchanges, as it is considered dangerous to put on record politically relevant information (Rocheleau, 1997). ve become standardized, less transparent, lacking in free and open communication and negotiation, trade group, a merger of the American Electronics Association, the Info rmation Technology Association of America, and two other organizations (Williams, 2009). Thus, laws and procedures alone, do not guarantee transparency in government. realization that has two dimensions: procedural and substantive. Procedural democracy includes elections, free speech, voting, and access to information. Substantive democracy is, a system of governance that both in its form and its content must


31 As the society evolves, there is, therefore, a continuing pressing need, for a constant reassessment of transparency in urban governance in order to improve civic engagement, and to enhance the accountability of local government to its citizenry. Transparency as a principle of good urban governance The exercise of economic, poli tical and administrative authority to manage and institutions, through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and m ediate their differences. It is widely recognized that a core principle of good governance is transparency. critical to uncovering Transparency International (IT), a global civil society organization which mission is to measure and evaluate corruption in all sectors of the society, considers transparency in governmental or corporate operations as one of the strategic means Transparency and civic engagement Civic engagement is understood as the active participation of citizens in public life and their contribution to the common good. The level of trust in local government and public agencies is a key factor for the extent and quality of civic engagement. Loss of trust can discourage participation, and lead to disengagement of citizens. But trust, has a direct relationship with transparency, and is affected by it in two ways: the quality of services that the public receives; and the degree of organizational openness about its records.


32 Transparency and accountability By promoting better access to information for all stakeholders, transparency strengt hens the accountability of all actors. The World Bank has identified three main types of accountability: political accountability, which expresses itself in periodic elections; administrative accountability, which is represented through mechanisms within a nd between agencies; and social accountability which includes mechanisms that hold agencies accountable to their citizenry. Information Technology improve public and private decision making have long been among the major justifications for planning (Closterman, 1985). advancements in computer technology, computerized environments enable planners (especially in high income nations), to analyze data a lmost seamlessly and instantaneously, and to generate meaningful products such as charts, maps, summary statistics, and 3D models; quickly, easily, and collaboratively. This ready availability of data and information has opened up immense opportunities for explaining public policy, and for supporting collective decision making. In addition, planners today, work in an architecture of open participation and democracy that encourag es users to add value to their tools and applications as they use them (Forth, For lano, Satchell, & Gibbs, 2011). Types of planning data Planners work with a vast array of types of data, of sources for these data, and of their formats. Planners use demogr aphic data; socio economic data; housing and economic development data; unemployment and labor force data; transportation data


33 on traffic, on ridership, on road conditions; environmental data on air, water, noise, pollution, natural resources, endangered s pecies; public health and food systems data; archeological data; and land survey, land ownership, and land development data (Closterman, 2000). Sources of planning data Planners use both primary and secondary data. Interview results, survey results, remote ly sensed images or aerial photographs, and other similar data created based on direct observation, are all primary data. In addition, by virtue of daily planning operations, planners regularly generate important primary data, which in most cases are also regulatory data and have a legal standing. 6 These types of primary data, which are also called transactional data, are related to regular planning functions and to planning services that are routinely provided to individual property owners. They are relate d to land uses, land zonings and re zonings, land development, issue of new addresses, issue of building permits, issue of certificates of occupancy for new dwellings, code enforcement violations, etc. A very recent form for collecting primary data is als o the web based voluntary contribution model that is also known as microvolunteerism. Based on the nature of the project, for which the data is being collected, the method of data collection could fit under crowdsourcing, or citizen science, or participato ry urbanism. Paulos, Kim, and Kuznetsov (2011) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, provide the following definitions for citizen science and for microvolunteerism respectively: 6 The legal environment in which planning data are produced and used is highly uncertain and the legal structures are subjected to numerous interpretations established locally and by state (Nedovic Budic, 2000)


34 C ITIZEN SCIENCE N on expert citizens collecting scientific data M I CROVOLUNTEERISM E xplores the newly emerging design territory for volunteering on the order of seconds two seconds at this bus stop: Howe, who coined the term in 2006, provides the following two definitions for crowdsou rcing (Howe, 2009): T HE W HITE P APER V ERSION T he act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call. T HE S OUNDBYTE V ERSION T he application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software. And, Paulos, Honicky and Hooker (2008), provide this definition for participatory urbanism: Inspired directly by citizen science and in the spirit of Urban Computing (Paulos & Jenkin s, 2005), participatory urbanism is more directly focused on the potential for emerging ubiquitous urban and personal mobile technologies to enable citizen action by allowing open measuring, sharing, and remixing of elements of urban living marked by, requ iring, or involving participation, especially affording the opportunity for individual citizen par ticipation, sharing, and voice. Planners also use secondary data. Secondary data is data that has been collected by others. These could be a national census which typically collects data on people, housing, transportation zones, and metropolitan areas; data collected by state or regional agencies; or private organizations. And frequently, there is more than one data source, collected by more than one agency f or the same observation type. Data and information But what is data? And what is information? The brief definitions provided below are interpretations from frameworks provided by Nyerges and Jankowski (2010). A few examples have been added.


35 D ATA A re raw o bservations (e.g., a measurement) of some reality, whether past,current, or future, in a shared understanding of an organizational context. For example, point locations of newly issued permits for single family residential buildings in a city. I NFORMATION D ata placed in a context for use that has meaning about a world we share. For example, a statistical chart and a map showing newly issued permits for single family residential buildings in a city, summarized and categorized by their market price range. E V IDENCE I nformation that makes sense (perhaps corroborated); something we can use to reason about a particular topic. For example, a map and a statistical summary showing the absence of newly issued permits for single family residential buildings in a blig hted area that has long been designated to receive tax subsidies for gentrification purposes. K NOWLEDGE A n assemblage of synthesizing, enduring, credible, and corroborated evidence that enables us to re interpret the world based on new data and informati on. Information p roducts (Friedmann 1987:38), and planning agencies are the hubs where many societal problems are undertaken in a direct and tangible way. In fact, planning agencies are the only entities that provide critical planning services, such as development permitting, context the role and the use of information products is imperativ e to the success of the Budic, 2000). But what are information products? Tomlinson (2003) defines them most efficiently as the outputs generated by the information systems. Similarly, Chrisman (1999) bases his definition of geog raphic information systems in the transformation of information into other forms that interact with social structures. So, what more specifically, are the information products used in planning? And can they be categorized? Due to their vastness and comple xity, urban and regional


36 planning information products can be categorized in many ways. One approach could be to categorize them by the model of the information system that stores the data that is used to generate the products. For example, there are plann ing information systems that are geographically enabled and store geographic, or geospatial information, or there are planning information systems that are not geographically enabled, and store only tabular information, and there are document management pl anning information systems that store multimedia information such as text, photos, drawings, videos, documents, reports, etc. Another way to categorize planning information products could also be by the manner in which they are distributed. For example, p aper versus digital, or online versus off line digital media, or interoperable versus non interoperable, etc. Planning information products could also be categorized by their regulatory power: products that have a regulatory mandate, versus products that d o not have a regulatory mandate, and so on. But for the purpose of this study, let us consider another way for classifying planning information products. This classification is based on the purpose of use of these products. Based on this classification, a nd broadly defined, planning information products fall under these categories (and sometimes in more than one): I NFORMATION PRODUCTS FOR ONE TIME USE F or example, a citizen request for a particular special area plan I NFORMATION PRODUCTS AS PART OF STRATE GIC DOCUMENTS F or example, the data and analysis portion of the Comprehensive Plan (a community blue print for the future 20 years) I NFORMATION PROD UCTS AS PART OF LEGA L DOCUMENTS F or example, a map of electoral commissioner districts, or a map and tabl e showing code violations which fines are pending


37 I NFORMATION PRODUCTS AS A RESULT OF A SPE CIFIC STUDY F or example, maps and statistics generated by a study aiming to rank conservation sensitivity for privately owned lands, or from a study aiming to iden tify and rank substandard housing I NFORMATION PRODUCTS GENERATED BY RULE BA SED OR EXPERT SYSTEM S F or example, a landscape ecological model, which outputs are dynamic and are dependent on user input I NFORMATION PRODUCTS GENERATED BY INVENTO RY DATA P rodu cts generated mostly for dissemination of public information, for example, a geographic data library for a municipality, or a map and table showing all municipality annexation areas I NFORMATION PRODUCTS GENERATED BY TRANSAC TIONAL OPERATIONAL S YSTEMS F or example, a table and map of the septic tank permits issued during a period of 20 years, or a map with locations of land re zonings for the last 10 years A relatively recent category of information products as services are e government services. Each of th e above categories of information products, if consumed online, can be considered an e government service. E government services can be very basic, or they can be highly sophisticated if they employ Web 2.0 features and allow for two way interaction. The f ollowing are definitions for e government, 7 e services, and Web 2.0: The Center for Technology in Government (2003) defines e use of information technology to support government operations, engage citizens, and provide government service reflected in the definition: the electronic delivery of services (e services), use of information technology to improvement management (e management), use of the 7 The E Government Act of 2002 is a United States statute. Its stated purpose is to improve the management and promotion of electronic government services and processes by establishing a Federal Chief Information Officer within the Office of Management and Budget, and by establishing a framework of measures that require using Internet based information technology to improve citizen access to government information and servic es, and for other purposes.


38 Internet to facilitate citizen pa rticipation (e democracy), and the exchange of money for goods and services over the Internet (e commerce). Rowley (2006) defines e -deeds, efforts or performances whose delivery is mediated by information technology. Such e service includes the service element of e tailing, customer support, and service delivery This definition includes three components: service provider, service receiver, and the channels of service. ce in interoperability, user centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other as creators (pros umers) of user generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created Web inventor Tim Berners Lee, who uses the term "Read/Write Web" instead of Web 2.0. The Open Source Paradigm The goal of this study is to show that an open systems paradigm, which includes the use of open source software, is a better model than the current f or developing end user applications of building permit technologies. The distinction between open systems, open source, and open technology, was presented in Chapter 1 (pages 4 & 5). But when generally defined, despite their differences, all three terms re present an open paradigm for developing and implementing computational projects and technologies


39 Therefore, as a good way for understanding an open systems paradigm, this study examines the open source 8 intercha technological development, innovation, and distribution, not just the software per se (Noonan, create a process. The software product itself is valuable but is not the key to an open source software. There is organizational, technological, and legal innovations in the computing sphere, there is a distinctive, complex, moral, and political culture that ought to be of interest, and ought to be understood and respected by those seeking to extend the open source techniques Free and Open Source Software Defined refers to a set of licenses that require unfettered access to the human readable source code from which all computer programming language. The Open Source term, whose close alterna tes are Open Source Software (OSS), or Free Open Source Software (FOSS), or Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOS or FLOSS), is often used as a generic adjective that implies 8 as well.


40 cifically, the term represents programs whose licenses give users the freedom to use the program with no restrictions, to examine and modify the program, and to redistribute it (in original or modified form) without paying royalties. The word Free, or Libr e (French Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation in 1985 and launched the free software movement. The Free Software Foundation advocates for software freedom and its cre ed consists of four core freedoms (Free Software Foundation, 2009): The freedom to run the program, for any purpose The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor. The freedom to improve the program, and r elease your improvements to the public so that the community benefits. Access to source code is a precondition to this. In the larger FLOSS context, a slightly different movement was shaped, with the founding of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), in 1998. OSI represented an ideology more focused on the superior technological capabilities of open source, rather than its cerns are secondary or absent to the technological The software freedom advocates postulate that software constitutes a public good (Williams, 2002 in Rasmussen, 2007), and pursue an inherently pol itical aim: free software as a vehicle to spread the principles of informational freedom and a non proprietary vision of society (Breindl, 2010).


41 It is important to note, that FLOSS as a movement, has evolved, and it has become more complex over time. It must be understood as a watercourse fed by two participation, and collaboration. O rigin of Open Source In the 1960s and 1970s, mainframe computers in university computer science departments and in corporate research facilities were considered tools for research. Distributing source code freely was the same as other research practices. T his changed in the late 1960s. An episode that represents in a real sense the emergence of the modern commercial software industry happened in 1969. The US Department of Justice filed a massive antitrust suit against IBM. To pre empt charges that the comp any was unfairly leveraging its very strong market position in hardware, IBM (founded in July 1975) followed with this trend. The arrival of the personal computer (PC ) in the early 1980s and its rapid widespread distribution in the business world reinforced this trend. Software that at one time had been traded freely among developers was now an extraordinarily valuable and lucrative product (Weber, 2000). These changes impacted the community of computer scientists, including those at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT began to demand that its employees sign nondisclosure agreements, and the newest mainframes came with operating systems that did not dis tribute the source code. It is at this time that Richard Stallman, an MIT researcher, established the Free


42 as old as your neighbor. A cooperating community was forbidden. The rule made by the owners When the Open Source Initiative was formalized in 1998, its philosophical core deviated from that of the Free Software Foundation. Eric Raymond, its founder, summarizes it as follows: "It seemed clear to us in retrospect that the term 'free software' had done our movement tremendous damage over the years. Part of this stemmed from the well known 'free speech/free beer' am biguity. Most of it came from something worse the strong association of the term 'free software' with hostility to intellectual property rights, communism, and other ideas hardly likely to endear Legal Framework of Open Sou rce many private companies (for profit and non for profit) that develop and modify open sour Open Source software is not in the public domain (Wheeler, 2005). Public domain software is software that has no copyright owner. An open source program must be released u nder some license giving its users a certain set of rights; the most popular license is the General Public License (GPL), although there are about a dozen types similar to it. All software released under the


43 GPL is open source, but not all open source soft ware uses GPL (Wheeler, 2005). Instead of protecting the property rights (as if it were individual property) of the software creator, GPL turns it around, protects in perpetuity the rights of the public to the software, and safeguards against the possibili ty of copyrighting it after modifications. speech (Sullivan, 2010). It is a substitute system for the es tablished copyright software. like AT&T (which owned the rights to the UNIX operating system) since it turned out a legally protected zone to build and protect the pub ). By creating this legal alternative to f ). When the Open Source Initiative was founded, it also became the steward of the a new licensing framework model. While the GPL insures that no GPL code can ever be used as part of a proprietary software project, the OSD allows redistribution under the same terms, but does not require it. Some licenses that fall under the OSD entitle a programmer to modify the software and then release it under new terms (including making it proprietary). Proprietary Software and Vendor Lock in Proprietary software is copyrighted software. In the United States, copyright was extended to computer software in the Computer Software Act of 1980. This act defined protections (Sulli van, 2010 in Johnson, 1994). This law created the conditions for the


44 enclosure of computer programming during the deregulatory period of the 1980s. Writing in his 1981 book Who Knows, critical scholar Herbert Schiller expressed alarm at the enormous sums o f taxpayer funds which were poured into research and development, and whose outcomes were immediately transferred to the private sphere (Sullivan, 2010). The origin of the copyright law is tied to the invention of the printing press in 1444. European mona rchs began granting exclusive licenses to printers for specific types of documents, often appropriating as proprietary certain plays, poems, and songs that had been popularly available (Sullivan, 2010 in Bettig, 1992; Eisenstein, 1979). This new model of d efining information and intellectual products similar to land property was the foundation of the English copyright law, which in the 1800s was transferred to the American colonies. Besides their differences in copyright licenses, and in the way they view t he issue of property, there are also other differences between the proprietary and the open source models. These differences start with the way in which the product is developed. Open source is generally developed in a participatory approach. The propriet ary model is generally developed in a top down approach. Eric S. Raymond (1999) compares the open source model to the bazaar model, and the proprietary model to the cathedral model. In the bazaar model, the source code is publicly available, and each devel oper chooses what to work on. In the cathedral model, the source code is controlled by a small group of developers, and the process is organized in a hierarchical manner. Open


45 source generally adopts the bazaar model, whereas proprietary software the cathe dral model. Another difference between them is in the way in which they are distributed for consumption. The majority of the computer users today work with proprietary software. This omnipresence of proprietary software is largely due to the massive influe nce exercised by the companies that manufacture software, and to their cooperative use packages for consumers. For example, most of the time, the Windows operating sy stem (proprietary) is the default operating system included on new computers that are routinely sold to consumers. This is the result of well established business relationships between Microsoft and computer hardware manufacturers like Hewlett Packard and Dell (Sullivan, 2010). Along with this operating system bundling, Microsoft bundles its own internet browser (Internet Explorer) in the operating system itself, and prioritizes its use as the default browser the first time users start up the computer. This practice is misleading to consumers. It discourages them from considering whether to purchase a specific operating system or software package, and it makes the cost of changing to another software application cumbersome, because of potential incompatibili ties that might arise. Moreover, arrangements between companies to bundle materials for the customer can adversely impact market competition. The choice of which product to purchase, is taken out of the hands of the consumer, and it is placed in the hands of the companies that make these cooperative agreements in advance of manufacturing, and


46 distribution to the market. Since very few of the end users actually modify the default settings of their computers, these actions by technology firms may constitute a de facto form of regulation (Shah & Sandvig, 2008). A recent example (out of numerous) about the consequences to the consumer interests from this centralized authoritarian controlled model, is the 2009 case of the book reader). Amazon, underhandedly, deleted copies of books that users had already purchased due to a disputed license agreement with the estate of the author. In this case, digital content that users believed that they owned was re claimed by Amazon. To make matters more suggestive, deleted books were by George Orwell, and included 1984, and Animal Farm. The proprietary model of bundling applications together for sale to consumers extends far beyond these computer industries and it similarly applies to governmental or user operational computer systems (software and databases) that are tailored to specialized organ izational needs and public services that they must provide. These are in general third tier computer systems that are built upon industry standard software or database infrastructures. Most of the time their proprietary licenses, focus on the use of the pr oduct. This may be defined in terms of size, scale, and type of permitted uses. Most of them restrict the user in the number of computers (PCs, Servers) on which the software can be installed; in the number of concurrent users that can use the system (for more users, purchase more licenses); prohibit the copying of the software; prohibit


47 its de compilation or enhancements; and not un frequently include clauses that prohibit publication of material that is disparaging to the vendor. A specific example of how these restrictions apply is a randomly chosen acquisition from the Alachua County government. The Alachua County government signed a contract with Motorola Inc., in 2005, for the provision of a computer system, called Community Inquiry Tracking System. Th based software system that will track interactions with Alachua County government to improve communication and accountability and allow for standard enterprise w Tracking System will provide a link for citizens regarding non emergency services by: providing a prompt, friendly response to their request for service or information as well as computerized tracking of service request s from the initial contact through its referral, investigation and disposition. All requests must issue a request number so that the In reality, for a price of $638,000, spread over the course of four years (2 006 2009), Alachua County paid Motorola Inc. for a hosted service. Its source was locked, and the hardware, software, and data were entirely and centrally controlled by Motorola Inc. in its servers. Motorola Inc. was the only entity which could make any ch anges. Since Alachua County did not own any part of this system (other than its potential content), when in 2009, it did not renew the contract with Motorola Inc. (as the system had been minimally used and had not accomplished many of its goals), Alachua C ounty was left with virtually nothing. In addition, during the time of its use, two other conditions were included in the license of the system:


48 The Community Inquiry Tracking System was not open to the public for inquiry or view, or data input, and it cou intranet, although it was a web based system, and used internet compatible software and databases (Oracle, ArcIMS). Open internet use would have been possible for a higher price. The county staff that used the system within the county intranet to enter data from public phone inquiries was limited to 1 2 concurrent users per department (8 for an organization of about 900). For each additional user, more had to be paid to Motorola Inc. Regardless of the signific ance of this story about the management of public funds, or about the implications related to the principles of open government, these license condition s show that for the same technology, and for the same product, Motorola Inc. increased its profits with Motorola Inc. is in fact selling just the mere right to use its product (and under extremely limited conditions) to Alachua County, not the product per se. Left with no product and much less the rights to make c hanges during the course of its use, Alachua County cannot build upon its initial investment in the Community Inquiry Tracking System, after its contract with Motorola Inc. ends. While Motorola Inc. may have been chosen via a competitive process (amongst f ive applicants), when considering the final outcome of that process, one is left to question its very meaning. Open Source and Open Government Open government is a governing doctrine whose origin can be traced to the European Enlightenment discourse on the shape of the democratic state. One of its principles is the right of the citizens to access government information. An open and transparent government (at times called participatory government) is also one of the five indicators of a democratic society. T hese indicators are: the electoral process; civil liberties; transparent and efficient government; political


49 participation; and political culture (Democracy Index, 2010). At present, half of the nstitutional provisions or 9 (Open Government Partnership, 2011). person who has custody of a public record must allow the record to be inspected and the governments of Florida to make their information (all types of data and documents, digital or in paper) availabl e to anyone, without delay, and without asking for a reason, or the background and name of the requestor. Thus, open governments rely and thrive on transparency of data and software that are used to run the public business. And the implementation of this t ransparency is information flows between the government and the citizens, comput erized systems play citizens (Graber, 2006). Because of its open licenses, and of its transparent and participatory ways of development, open source has similar princip les with those of the open governments. The culture of open source also shares some notable characteristics with gift 9 open government legislation was enacted in Sweden in 1766


50 economies 10 'ownership' per se (Weber, 2000). And Eaves (200 8) argues that gift economies share Therefore, the fundamental reasons for governments in adopting open source should primarily be strategic. They sho uld be tied to core governmental principles and responsibilities rather than limited to economic benefits (Oram, 2010). These principles and responsibilities require governments to provide the basic guarantees: access for all, vendor independence, preserva tion of public records, security of public interests, and effective public scrutiny. To guarantee access for all, it is indispensable that the computerized information not be tied to a sole provider. To guarantee preservation of public records, it is indis pensable that the stewardship of computerized information not be dependent on the graces of the providers, or the monopoly models that they impose. To guarantee public security, it is indispensable that computerized information be devoid of remote control, or the transmission of information to third parties. To guarantee effective public scrutiny, it is indispensible that the source code of the systems can be viewed and examined by the government or its citizens (Open Source Initiative, 2002). In addition to these strategic reasons for adopting open source, open governments also benefit from open source if it offers features that are better, or not found in proprietary alternatives (Lopez et al., 2010, in Oram 2010). 10 G ift econom ies (prevalent before market economies), circulate and redistribute valuables within the community based on informal giving rather than formal quid pro quos Raymon d (2000) notes that open source communities don't operate as command hierarchies or even as exchange economies. Instead they often operate as gift economies.


51 State of Open Source in Government Is it possible to estimate the overall level of open source diffusion and penetration in the government sector? Ghosh (2007) points out that a lack of hard data, and limitations in economic evaluations of non explicit economic activities, is hard to measure in a quantifiable sense. A number of social scientists have observed that inquiries into the prevalence of open source are limited by data constraints facing this research area (Van Wendel de Joode et al. 2006, in Noonan 2010). A contributing factor is also t source community has been international from the start and it remains so. It transcends national boundaries in a profound way because its interests and its product are not tied to or depend upon any government (Weber, 2010). It is m ostly through the passage of laws and regulations that the adoption of open source by national governments has been examined by scholars (Noonan, 2010). For example, by 2001, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, France, and Mexico all had measures pending that would m andate the use of open source software on government computers (Lewis, 2008). But that is only one way of assessing the issue. The recent study published by the Spanish National Open Source Software estimates that t he extent to which open source has been adopted, and developed, fluctuates significantly across the globe. Countries with strong economies show a high level of open source use. North America, Western Europe, and Austra lia are in this category. Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are at the bottom. India, China, and Brazil have a higher than expected level of adoption, when proportionally compared with their Information Technology level of adoption.


52 This same repo rt also notes that in the public sector, a greater prevalence of open source is present in Europe. Germany, France, and Spain are in the forefront. It also argues that government support has been crucial in all three countries, with the German government i n the forefront. But these are only broad assessments. What constitutes adoption of open source may be different from country to country. As Noonan (2010) notes, some governments simply procure open source software, others, such as Japan, Korea, and China have actually directed public funds to large scale open source development projects (Chae & McHanney, 2006). shows that the United States is the world leader in the open source movement, with its universities as birthplaces of many open source projects, and with associations such as the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative. In the United States the use of open source is extensive in the public sector, and espe cially at the federal level. Large portions of the US government including the National Security Agency, the Defense Department, and the Department of Energy use open source to some degree (Weber, 2004; Schearer 2008; Wheeler 2007). Several states have als o been active to some degree in promoting open source, as is the case of Law 2892 in Oregon, and Law 1579 in Texas, (National Open Source Software Observatory, 2010). On his first day in office, president Obama (sometimes called open source president) is sued a Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (Obama, 2009), which was followed by a directive that outlined steps toward openness from the Office of Management and Budget (Orszag, 2009).


53 A recent research study from The Center for Strategic and I nternational Studies (or call for adoption) of open source from various federal agencies of the United States such as the Department of Defense, the Navy, and the Office of Management and Budget. The Health e Information Technology Act of 2008 called for the creation of a Federal Open Source Heath Information Technology System. The stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), called for a stud y on the availability of open source health Information Technology systems. Senator Rockefeller IV proposed legislation for the adoption of a nationwide, open source program for sharing electronic health records, and Congress acknowledges the potential val ue of open source in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009 (Ward & Tao, 2009). At a local level, American local governments have been much slower in adopting open source (Cassell, 2010). The study by Ward and Tao (2009) also concludes that the open source adoption rate is still very low in government. Yet the survey by Ward and Tao (2009) reports that 39 percent of small to mid size cities use some form of open source. This survey was based on a sample of 1,206 local governments. A num ber that represents 1.3 percent of the United States local governments. lt is also important to note that this survey was not concerned with a mixture of open source and proprietary systems, and that it was primarily concerned with infrastructural rather than end user open source. Cassell (2010) also reports on a recent survey conducted with


54 Administration and Policy. He notes that about 15 percent of respondents reported usi ng some form of open source. At present, there is no accurate or comprehensive survey on the level of diffusion or adoption of open source from local governments in the United States. In addition, studies about the role of open source within local govern me nts are rare (Cassell, 2010). While much work can be found on open source on many topics, the body of research covering municipal adoption is limited (Ward & Tao, 2009). A report published by the International City and County Managers Association (Repas, 2 010), focuses on six local governments as best practice examples of open source systems, and open source approaches. These are: Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, California, San Francisco, California, Portland, Oregon, Largo, Florida, and Northglenn, Colorado But, there are close to ninety thousand local governments in the United States. They rang e from the Village of Lazy Lake in the state of Florida (24 residents, Census 2010), to the City of New York in the state of New York (over 8 million residents, Cens us 2010). Summary The review of the literature in the fields of Local Government Planning Implementations and the Open Source paradigm was focused on research outcomes and on practices and applications. This review sought to clarify the vocabulary and the definitions related to the topic of this study, and to also create a contextual map of the research related to its main variables. In order to provide a framework for carrying out this dissertation, this review also tried to highlight relationships betwee n ideas and practices, and to place existing research in a historical context.


55 The examination of the state of research in the intersection of Local Government Planning Implementations and the Open Source paradigm that coincides with the characteristics o f this study revealed little if some indirect research. While work can be found in local government planning information service improvement, no significant research can be found on the back end mechanisms used to implement these service improvements. Sign ificant research is also hard to find that links these back end mechanisms to the philosophy of open source governance, or that highlights the similarity between the principles of the open source movement, and the principles of local government planning im plementations. Much less was I able to find any specific scholarly contribution in the narrower overlap between the application of open systems and the construction permitting process technologies. It seems though that this inattention to the construction permitting process is hardly a new phenomenon. In the words of unfortunate that so little scholarly attention has been devoted to building inspections From the scarcity in this research intersection, and from the outcomes of the literature review on the Open Source paradigm, a deductive argument can be made that in local government planning agencies the very practice of using an Open Systems paradigm as part of the mechanisms for the development of computerized technologies, is similarly very rare. As the review shows, most of the open source researchers are typically concerned with general investigations of Open Source Software in three areas: (1) backend infrastructure (servers and web servers), (2) operating systems, and (3)


56 operational applications (software and databases). They consider these topics from the rather than from the perspective of an end user specific service (such as building permitting) that is similarly provided by several agencies. Very few studies, if any, have investigated the feasibility of Open Systems in local governments, with a focus on end user applications (software a nd databases) only, and as they apply to a specific service that is statutorily regulated across many local governments.


57 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHOD Any innovation, any new trend, was immediately known, and could be freely incorporated into the work of any of the others. -Peter Hall, in describing the Go lden Age in turn of the century Paris This chapter presents a conceptual map for guiding this study towards answering its main questions, and towards shaping the evid ence for proving its prime hypothesis. The chapter is composed of two sections: Research Design and Research Method. The first section, Research Design, starts with the purpose of the study, is followed by a sub section arguing the rationale for the sel ect ion of the case study, and which includes a sub section describing the unit of the research analysis, and a sub section identifying t he data, and the evidence used. It continues with a sub section that synthesizes the permitting process in the state of Flo rida, and a sub section that provides a summary definition of web services. The second section Research Method is organized in two sub sections one for each unit of analysis (Alachua County, and Florida) Research Design As introduced in Chapter 1, this dissertation explores the benefits of introducing a computer technologies (software and databases) based on Open Systems and on uniform standards. It hypothesizes that Open Systems paradigm for building permit technologies, creates the conditions for (a) a drastic increase in governmental transparency, (b) transformative improvements in delivery of services, and (c) significant cost savings of public expenditures.


58 To test this hypothesis, this dissertation uses an exploratory single case study research method. The author analyzes a building permit and inspection computerized system developed and imp lemented over the course of three years (2006 2009) by the Al achua County GIS Division, with a Participatory Design, and an Open Source and Open Systems approach. The results and the findings that will be revealed by the evaluation of the Alachua main dependent variables will be applied to a larger unit of analysis. Building permit technologies presently used by planning departments in local governments of the State of Florida will be reviewed, and their current level of adoption of Open S ystems w ill be examined in an attempt to Case Study The single case study approach is thought appropriate as this research studies life context (Yin, 1994), and tries to understand complex social phenomena (Yin, 2003), as it is the case with the adoption of an open paradigm for building permit computational technologies. The rationale for selecti ng a case study requires that the case fit in at least one of these three categories: critical unique or revelatory (Yin 1994, 2009). The Alachua County case study, in fact, fits in each of these three categories. This case is all at once critical uniqu e and revelatory The Alachua County case study can be considered a critical case as it implements (albeit in an original and unprecedented way), a broadly formulated theory that Open Source an Open System practices, are superior paradigms for computer system developments, and especially more so in government organizations and in the


59 contemporary climate of the rapid technological r evolution (Chapter 1 & Chapter 2). The Alachua County case study can also be considered a unique case as it has taken a ve ry unique approach into implementing a highly successful system (as the study will reveal) amongst other local governments in the state of Florida, and in fact the nation. And finally, the Alachua County case study can be considered a revelatory case, give n that the development of this system is the brain child of the author of this study who has been intimately involved in directing all of the stages of its development until its full implementation. Of significant importance for the selection of this case study, is also the fact that for the past decade, the Alachua County government has been acknowledged to be in the forefront of the adoption of some of the most progressive planning policies in the State of Florida. Unit of Analysis This case study has an embedded design and contain s two units of analysis. The first unit of analysis is the Alachua County local government. It is in this unit of analysis in which the predominant work for this study is conducted. The second unit of analysis is a representativ e sample of the collection of local governments in the State of Florida. The combination of t hese two units of analysis enable s this study to integrate both quantitative and qualitative methods (Scholz & Tietje, 2002), and to draw its conclusions at a mean ingful scale. For the first u nit of analysis, the study consider s data from the Alachua County Growth Management department from 2000 to 2009.


60 Figure 3 1 Alachua County Unit of Analysis As shown in Figure 3 1 above, the Alachua County government is one of the ten local governments in the county of Alachua. I ts jurisdiction is limited within the un incorporated area of the county only. A lthough Alachua County government has a mandate to provide certain services countywide b uilding and development service s are limited to the unincorporated area. D uri ng the period of 2000 2009, Alachua County was sporadically contracted (via intergovernmental agreements) by a few of the smaller municipalities to provide building and development services for them. For the second u nit of analysis, the study consider s data from planning departments in local governments of the St ate of Florida for the year 2012 As discussed in Chapter 1, and as shown in Figure 3 1, there are 478 local governments (67 counties and 411 municip alities) in the State of Florida. A stratified rep resentative sample of them constitute s the second unit of analysis. The envisioned method for


61 compiling a meaningful sample representative of counties and municipalities in the state of Florida is described in the C ollection of Data and Evidence Yin (1994, 2009), advises of six categories of primary sources of evidence for research strategies that are based on case studies. These categories are: documentation archival recor ds interviews direct observations participant observations and physical artifacts Under the documentation category, he includes letters, agendas, memos, emails, reports, studies and evaluations. Under the archival records category, he specifies datab ases, personal records, service records, customer complaint databases, surveys. Under the interviews category he specifies three types of interviews (open ended, focused, and structured questions). Under the direct observations category he includes meeting s, factory work, work space, classrooms, and conditions of buildings. Under the participant observations category he identifies access to events and data that are otherwise inaccessible, perception of reality from within, and the ability to understand mino r events. And lastly, under the physical artifacts category, Yin groups technological devices, tools or instruments, and works of art. his dissertation use s abundant primary and secondary data collected from all of the above categories. For the Alachu a County case study, which also constitute s the bulk of this study, the author use s data and evidence from agendas, memos, emails, reports, studies, interviews, databases, software applications, web sites, website statistics, personal records, customer service records, customer complaint databases, meetings, work


62 space and conditions of buildings, contract agreements, budget documents, perfor mance measure documents, county press releases, county newsletters, etc. In Growth Management department, and the participatory approach by which these computer syste ms were created, has provided her an in depth understanding into the subtleties of the internal culture, politics, perceptions, reactions, events ( withi n closed and open doors), observations, and data that would otherwise be almost impossible to capture. On the other hand, the author has diligently tried to guard herself from letting her pant observer (Ying, 2009) to morph pporter (Ying, 2009). She has strive d to analyze the evidence and the data collected for this un it of observer (Ying, 2009) role, which was also eased by her two year employment separation from the Alachua County government. For the second unit of analysis, the author has developed a geospatial database (Yin, 1994, 20 09). This database hold s representative information on building permit technologies in the local governments of the State of Florida. This information is composed of variables such as: population served by the local government, budget of the local governme nt, existence of a computerized system for building permit and technologies, manner of system development manner of system acquisition, provider of the system, last purchased cost of the s ystem, yearly operating cost of the system, length of time of syste m use and a few other variables related to the functionality of the system ( usability, accessibility, ge o enablement, etc.). Most of the s e data was obtained from web based documents published by the local governments, the United States


63 Census Bureau, or t he Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida When necessary, individual inquiries were also conducted with the local governments. The public nature of this information facilitated its accessibility. The Building Permit Process and Public Safety A building permits technology system (open or closed) that is used to run operations is in fact just an electronic translation of the permitting process per se. It is the accuracy with which this electronic translation reflects the permit ting process proper then that best determines the quality of the building permits technology system. Therefore, in order to be able to evaluate the quality of the translation (i.e. the computational technology ) let us try to understand the permitting proce ss itself. And let us focus on how safeguards for the protection of public safety 1 (its fundamental purpose) are sculpted into the permitting process. As towns and cities evolve through a continuous and gradual process of change and development (Adams, 19 94), it could be said that it is development that drives the process of community building. And the implementation of development is conducted Statutes). The enforcement of safety standards for public health and life security is in fact the essenc e of the mission of building departments and building activities, whether in 1 Florida statutes consider public safety to include the safety of life and of property.


64 healthy com munity by keeping our homes, offices and other buildings safe for public use by carefully reviewing and inspecting all construction projects that require building But what is the process that implements this mission and that ensures public safety during the development process? Let us describe it in Alachua County and in Florida, while remaining aware that, despite a few differences, they are similarly applied elsewhere. The process for ensuring public safety and protection, while regulated by st ate legislation, is conducted at the local level, and on a daily basis. The local building department is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Florida Building Code, with the local Land Development Code, and with local ordinances related to construc tion sites. In general, at the local level, every development undergoes five stages: 1. P RE A PPLICATION S CREENING A preliminary review of the project to ensure compliance with zoning, transportation, and environmental issues. 2. P LAN S UBMITTAL AND R EVIEW R e view and improvement of construction plans by licensed plans examiners. 3. I SSUANCE OF P ERMIT I ssue of Notice of Commencement by licensed staff, upon final approval of construction plans, and which defines conditions and time frames for the construction proc ess. 4. I NSPECTIONS S everal categories of inspections and of performance tests, conducted sequentially at specific milestones in the construction process by inspectors licensed in the specific category, such as electrical, fire, and others.


65 5. I SSUANCE OF C ERTI FICATE OF O CCUPANCY I ssue of Certificate of Occupancy (CO), upon final inspection by licensed staff. This is the document that authorizes occupancy of a structure by residents or businesses, as a legal assurance that the structure complies with zoning and land use ordinances, and with the Florida Building Code. A CO also puts the structure into the property tax rolls. And in what manner do these processes safeguard the public safety? The processes and the activities that are administered by the local gover nment during these stages are almost entirely regulated by the Florida Legislature. Within each stage numerous processes and activities occur, which collectively amount to an extensive and (Schneider, 1981) and they require coordination with other local departments such as Fire Rescue, Public Works, Health Department, Law Enforcement, etc. In the Florida Statutes there are several chapters that regulate the building per mitting activities. A few of importance are: Title X, Chapter 120 that regulates Administrative Procedures; Title XI, Chapter 125 and Title XII, Chapter 166 that regulate Counties and Municipalities. But in addition, there are also at least two chapters th at are specifically dedicated to the safeguard and to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare of Florida residents as they relate to construction activities: the Building Code Administrators and Inspectors and the Florida Building Codes Let us briefly review the role of each. Building Code Administrators and Inspectors


66 through sections 468.601 468.633 2 uniformly regulate the professional The Legislatur e finds that, where building code administration and inspection personnel fail to adequately, competently, and professionally administer state or local building codes, physical and economic injury to the citizens of the state may result and, therefore, dee ms it necessary in the interest of public health and safety to regulate the practice of This same chapter also regulates and defines the standards of the professional certifications for the inspec tors, plans examiners, and the building official (also called code administrator). These standards include the categories of certifications; the training that is required to update and maintain these certifications; responsibilities, duties, and powers of these professionals; prohibitions, penalties, and disciplinary issues; and others. The chapter also regulates the creation of the Florida Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board (under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, with members appointed by the Governor), with the authority Statutes, 468.606). 2 0499/0468/Sections/0468.60 9.html


67 The utmost concern for the protection of public safety is also expressed by the legislation in the level of discretion, and in the level of protection that it awards the position of the building official and other administering personnel. Section 468.619 the building code enforcement officials are employed by local jurisdictions to exercise police powers of the state in the course of their duties and are in that way similar to law enforcement pers onnel, correctional officers, and firefighters. It is the further finding of the Legislature that building code enforcement officials are thereby sufficiently distinguishable from other professionals regulated by the department so that their circumstances merit additional specific protections in the course of disciplinary investigations and proceedings against Thus, it seems that due to the public safety protection nature of their practice, building inspectors, plans examiners, and especia lly building offici als are better protected by legislation in the exercise of their profession against potential political influences of their employers or others, than local government planners are. This protection on the other hand, holds them also indiv idually more directly and legally accountable to the public, than the planners. The Florida Building Codes context. The code (including its standards) is consistent with the Flo rida Fire Prevention Code, which is maintained by the Office of the State Fire Marshal.


68 The 1998 Florida legislature amended Chapter 553 3 in Title XXXIII, Florida Statutes (FS) 4 fo r the state that is enforced by local governments. A brief review of the magnitude of the Florida Building Code reveals the following. The code is composed of nine volumes: Florida Building Code Building (36 chapters), Florida Building Code Residential (4 4 chapters), Florida Building Code Existing Building (16 chapters), Florida Building Code Energy Conservation (6 chapters), Florida Building Code Fuel Gas (8 chapters), Florida Building Code Plumbing (13 chapters), Florida Building Code Mechanical (15 chap ters), Florida Building Code Test Protocols for High Velocity Hurricane Zones (54 tests), Florida Building Code Accessibility Code (10 chapters). An attempt to count and to add up the pages of the nine volumes amounts to at least 2,500 pages. And yet, the volume of the content of this code is still un comparable to the complexities and to the day to day challenges that are encountered during the process of its implementation. But let us also very briefly review how the current uniform Florida Building Code was established Statewide building codes became mandated in Florida during the 1970s. There were four models that set minimum standards. Local governments were required to choose and to adopt one of the four. In the mid 1990s a series of natural disaster s happened in Florida. Even local codes thought to be the strongest were proved 3 Chapter 553 is divided into 8 parts, contains 998 articles, each of which is divided into 1 to 30 sections. 4 http://ww 0599/0553/0553ContentsIndex.html


69 inadequate by major hurricanes, causing devastation to lives and economies statewide. This, and the increase in the complexity of building construction regulation, triggered a statewide, both in the code adoption, and in its enforcement. In response to these occurrences, the current uniformed building code was shaped. As of March 1, 2002, the Florid a Building Code, which by authority of the state legislation is developed and maintained by the Florida Building Commission, supersedes all local building codes. The Florida Building Code is updated every three years and may be amended annually to incorpor ate interpretations and clarifications. Web Services and GeoWeb Services us briefly de fine Web Services and GeoWeb Services, in the context of local government planning. There can be more than one way to define Web Services and GeoWeb Services (or Map Services). Their definition depends on the perspective from which they are considered. Pro vided below are definitions for Web and GeoWeb Services from the two perspectives that were considered relevant to this study: local government planning, and technical protocols. Local Government Service Definition As local government activities in most o f their areas of application involve either direct services to the public, or contributions from the public, on a daily basis they are constantly engaged in provision of information to the community. This is no different for local government planning agenc ies. Providing information to the public, and answering inquiries from the public, takes up most of the


70 work load in local government planning agencies. These service provisions may include ad hoc information, preliminary documents, standardized transactio nal operations, or archival information. When these types of services are conducted via the web, whether in one direction (from the government to the public), or in two directions (from the government to the public and vice versa) they are ordinarily call ed Web Services. This is a definition viewed from the point of consumption, and from the point of the problem that the service solves, and not from the point of the technology that enables this service. When information and services are made available twen ty four hours a day, the part of the public with internet connection can obtain government information, such as documents, audio and video records, databases, GIS databases, ready made maps, gives people with different viewpoints and objectives an opportunity to contribute to collective decision draft documents to be made available for public review and comm ent in an easy, transparent, and effective way, which also lowers the cost of the operation. It is in this context that GeoWeb services are understood, and are used as an integral part of the Web Services, or as an extension to them. In fact they are secon dary, and complementary to the Web Services. When the type of service, or the type of information products that are made available from the service include mapping products, they would be considered GeoWeb Services. At times these may be in the form of int eractive maps, at times these may be in the form of static maps, or these could be in the form of specialized decision support systems. Different planning


71 processes or planning requirements would prefer one form of service to the other. For example if a ci tizen whose property value will be affected by a rezoning decision and that has been notified (as per Florida legislation) when a meeting on the subject will occur, wants to view information regarding her case, she would be provided (as per Florida legisla tion) a static map. And this would in fact be the more effective way to provide this service. In sum, GeoWeb Services as they are consumed by the users are not viewed as a separate service, but rather as an integral part of the Web Service. In sum, Web Ser vices in the local planning government context are understood interchangeably with e government or e services. The Center for Technology in Government (2003) defines e government support government operations, engag This definition is supported by the federal United States statute Government Act of 2002 Technical Protocol Definition The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is a global forum that develops and recomm ends open standards to ensure the long means of interoperating between different softwar e applications, running on a variety of distinction between Web of Data and Web of Services when it lays out its vision for the future of the web. One defined as linked data while the other as a set of services. Similar to the W3C, the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is a global forum for the collaboration of developers and users of spatial data products and services, and it is


72 involved in developing and in setting open stan dards for geospatial interoperability. This also includes standards for GeoWeb Services (Open Geospatial Consortium, 2012). serving georeferenced map images over the Internet that a re generated by a map developed and first published by the Open Geospatial Consortium in 1999. R esearch Method This section de scribes the methodology used in this study. Follow ing the outline that was described in the previous sections, this research uses slightly separate methods for each of its two units of analysis. There are two parts in this section. The first part investigate s the Alachua County case study using a case de scription analytic strategy (Ying, 2009). In this part a multitude of primary data (both qual itative and quantitative) is analyzed, and evaluated for accurate findings in support of the initial hypothesis. Deliberate attempts are made to uncover conflictin g data linkage s that could challenge the prime hypothesis and or the initi al results. A description of the participatory action research elements that were employed to create the Alachua County suite of building permit and inspection systems is also includ ed The second part is also based on a case description strategy and it include s the compilation of a geospatial database with representative data from local governments in the State of Florida. A lachua County Government The method used in this unit of an alysis, which constitutes the predominant part of the study, is organized in two parts. T he method start s wit h a summary narrative of the case study the proprietary system, and the reasons that lead to the nee d for these


73 new and open systems. It then foll ows with a summary of each of the four components of the building permit and inspection suite of produc ts, and it conclude s with summaries of comparative analysis of the two systems for the three main variables identified in the research question Organiza tional b ackground The implementation of Planning and Development Services for the Alachua County are the mission of the department of Growth Management. During the period between the year 2000 to 2009 the department implemented its goals through five d ivis ions: Comprehensive Planning, Development Serv ices, Housing Programs, Building and Code Enforcement and GIS. These divisions were responsible for preparing, updating, and implementing the Comprehensive Plan, for overseeing development activities, for admi nistering local, state and federal housing programs, and for ensuring adherence to Building Codes The GIS Division role was to support all of these planning operations with an integrated cross departmental information system and technology infrastructur e areas of operation included: geospatial decision support in urban and rural planning asset and record management for land administration and the web services. The p roprietary s ystem 5 On May 11, 1999, by Sole Source Certification, the Bo ard of Commissioners of Alachua County (BoCC) approved a contract with Perconti Data Systems Inc., for the upgrade from DOS to Windows of the Community Development Management System 5 The author would have wished to have had included screen prints of images of the proprietary system as she has done with the Open System throughout this study, but this is not allowed by the vendor.


74 Software (CD Plus). CD Pl us included four modules: a Building Permit modul e, a Codes Enforcement module, a Development Review module, and a Concurrency module The first two DOS based modules had been purchased by the Department of Growth Management on July 14, 1994 The other two DOS based modules were purchased respectively on April 9, 1996, and on March 11, 1997. While the first two modules: Building Permits and Codes Enforcement were in use in 1999, t he other two modules were not in use, and up to the present they have not been in use Appendix M includes one page from the s ole source certification section i contract for the upgrade of the CD Plus. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for CD Plus for the time frame between the years 2000 2008, stood at no less than $800,000 A dditional service s (eve n the edit of a misspe lled label ) were the exclusive right of the vendor, w ho charged at a starting rate of $175 per hour This cost provided for CD Plus us e by 30 40 authorized and office bound user s. The l icensing agreement price was a function of the nu mber of users CD Plus is not a generic software application. T he CD Plus software was designed as a desktop application, requiring a one time installation on each com puter It appears to have be en written in C++, but there is no documentation avail able to confirm this. C++ code written by developers was compiled into low level machine code to software. The software could not be updated or reverse engineered by the end users Perconti Data Systems Inc., had the keys to the CD Plus software, and never gave a copy to Alachua County. CD Plus is a front end to an Oracle based database that collects data in a pre determined, pre structured way. The data collected from CD Plus, is stored in a dedicated database, called the CD Plus


75 databas e. The design of this database, which is composed of hundreds of tables, is entirely dependent and fully dictated by the design of the CD front end. Both are installed and configured as part of the installation of the CD end. Reports in CD Plus a re designed using Crystal R eports (a separate desktop proprietary software) Reports can only be added, updated, or generated either by the vendor, or by a dedicated county staff with a licensed copy of Crystal Reports on her computer. CD Plus doe s not provide for integration with geospatial technologies, such as desktop, server or web GIS CD Plus also interfaced with an Automated Inspections Telephone s ystem (a separate proprietary software), which was licensed separately to Alachua County by an other vendor This phone system provided for scheduling and for updates of inspections. A copy of the CD Plus software needs to be installed in each user computer, and then re installed every time there is a new release, upgrade of operating system, new ha rdware, etc. There is no archive of previous versions of the CD Plus software, and the end users do not have a choice whether or not they want to upgrade the software on their computer. There is no documentation about what changes have been made in each up grade, and there is no mechanism to allow end users to revert back to a previous version of the software. Its data entry forms which include textboxes, drop down select boxes, checkboxes, date selectors and note fields, are not standardized. They routinel y cause the entry of erroneous and non standard data. CD Plus lacks documentation and there has not been a response from the vendor to county requests for providing it. There are no configuration files, instructions,


76 installation guides, proper help file s and guides for the user, use case scenarios upon which the sof diagrams or schemas of its database tables, of how they inter relate, no data diction aries, and other similar standard documentation. This proprietary software ha d over the years become an organizational problem. It was well known throughout the organization that this software was poorly built. It was also built with an old technology which did not allow for integration with the GIS system or the Web and which res tricted access to information to only a few licensed and office bound users. It was blighted with routine system probl ems and with functional errors. It was a common occurrence to discover strange or unintuitive functionality in CD Plus. Many of the end us ers had come up with work around solutions to make the software behave the way it is needed by the work processes. Interviews conducted with the CD Plus users by The Open Planning Project (TOPP), an educational and non for profit organization show the use rs complain ing that working with CD Plus is more of a task with which the users are required to comply, rather than a utility that facilitates their work and increases the efficiency of their operations, which is the ultimate test for good technology implementations. A feasibility study, about the geo enablement of the permitting system, conducted by The Op en Planning Project in 2007, compiled a number of issues in its final report to the county after conducting an on site analysis of its security and workflows, and user interviews. Following is a summary of a few of the issues: The permitting process requir es several departments to review it, such as the Fire Rescue, or the Health Department, or the Public Works department, or the


77 Environmental Department. The proprietary software did not track who was currently reviewing the building permit at what point in time. The issues with individual machine installation of this system that these departments had experienced over the years, had been so problematic for them, that the operational norm for extra departmental review of permits had become for unlicensed cler ks at the building department, to enter data into the permitting system, on behalf of licensed inspectors in these other departments. And their communications happened over phone. In the t hird paragraph of the Appendix J the Building Official of the Alach ua Coun ty confirms the findings of this study. The same study also found that no history of changes made to a record existed in the closed system. Anyone with write access to the system could overwrite previous records. This means that a non licensed staff could overwrite a rec ord entered by a licensed staff, and one department could overwrite the entry of another department The system lacked a framework for proper access control. Creating a software user account automatically generated a database (Oracle ) user account. The latter was automatically granted permissions at the same role level into the database. This means that the rights to make changes to the database tables, de lete important data, since the system provided no refined framework for Planning Project, 2007). Another evaluation conducted by Mannion Geosystems (2007), identified several system s hortfalls, related to this example that put to risks the integrity of the permitting operations. The Mannion Geosystems (2007) evaluation raises concerns with inadequate back up practices of the vendor (which allowed for a time gap of lost permitting recor ds), and with a non existent installation and configuration package necessary for a system recovery, or for a system migration. While these flaws were built into the design of the system, there were also routine system errors, or malfunctions which additio nally compromised the integrity of the system. Examples of these errors, identified by the users over the years, were related to: (a) the system not recognizing that a permit had expired, or (b ) not recognizing that the license of a contractor had expired, or (c) that the insurance of a


78 contractor had expired, or (d) that a code violation record number was identical to a permit number, and so on. Staff would only find out about these flaws, by chance. In Appendix N a snapshot is shown of email exchanges po inting out some of these issues. This snapshot is part of hundreds of email s exchanged between the vendor and the CD Evaluation of Perconti Data Systems Inc. CD PLUS software app the Department of Growth Management in August of 2007. As the software was proprietary, the choices for its improvement were locked to its vendor. The users had endured this for years, but no formal effort had ever been made to evalu ate its replacemen t. If this vendor went out of business or decided not to support this product, in a 30 day notice 6 Alachua County would have been left to budg et for another product, seek anoth er vendor, go through a R equest f or P roposals process, wait f or the product to get ready, go through the process of its acceptance, implementation, etc. This is a process that takes from one to two years, and during which operations would be interrupted. In addition, and most importantly, Alachua County would have b e en left with data structured tailored to CD Plus, which would not fit the design of another out of the box software, and which re utilization without extra investment, would not be possible. The open s ystem suite The need for the new projects was not iden tified by formal organizational venues. These projects were an initiative of the GIS Division which foresaw the opportunities that would arise for the organization and the public by a better solution. The GIS 6 See Appendix I, for a copy of the 2008 Maintenance and Support Agreement for CD Plus.


79 Division in conceiving, designing, developing, and implementing these four projects operated outside of the standard acquisition and development practices of the organization and it entwined this work with its daily duties and operations. It is important to recognize that the framework which inspired t his culture and which nourished its existence had been shaped at the top levels of the organization. In the year 2000, the County Commission had approved the following transformation strategies as part of its mission: Empower employees and citizens Implem ent technology that serves the organization and Improve systems of management and accountability These new Green Map per are f our separate but integrated end user applications with the GeoWeb Building Permit Tracker at the heart. Each of them is composed of several modules. The central and the larger one is the Building Permits and Inspections application. The four were implemen ted incrementally over the course of t hree years to cautiously transition out of the proprietary system. They integrated land administration records and building and permitting operations with GI S for the first time. They also for the first time made avail able in real time, by location and by transactional tracking, twenty five years of records on building permits, code enforcement, impact fees, and green data in Alachua County. In Figures 3 2 to 3 6 their portals are shown. More interfaces are provided i n Appendices A, B, C, & D.


80 Figure 3 2 GeoWeb Building Permit Tracker functionality poste r


81 Figure 3 3 Ge oWeb Building Permit Tracker portal


82 Figure 3 4 GeoWeb Code Enforcement Tracker p ortal


83 Figure 3 5 GeoWeb Impact Fee Calculator p ortal


84 Figure 3 6 GeoGreen Mapper p ortal In contrast with the traditional procurement standards of local governments, these software applications were developed entirely in house. T hey were developed with a Participatory Design approa ch and with an Open Technology. A Participatory Design approach is an approach to the assessment, design, and development of technological and organizational systems that places a premium on the active role of workplace practitioners, who are the users of these systems. During the entire process, the GIS Division engaged building and zoning clerks, building inspectors, code inspectors, planners, local builders, contractors, advocates of green living, the Codes Supervisor, the Impact Fee Administrator, the B uilding Official, the Builders Association


85 of North Central Florida, and various advisory boards. The Open Technology refers to practices for development and implementation of software in a nonproprietary way. Its key elements are: Open Standards and Inter faces, Open Source Software and Designs, Online collaborative and distributed tools, and Technological Agility. By employing an Open Technology approach, the GIS Division relied on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), which is available free to all, and which do es not require license payments This approach placed these products under the full owne rship of Alachua County, saved significant upfront acquisition costs, eliminated yearly license and maintenance fees, and it made possible the development of no nproprietary products, which can be enhanced and changed in competitive ways, and which can be reutilized by other organizations. Following are functional summaries for each of them. GeoWeb building permits tracker The Building Permit Tracker is composed o f eight modules. In real time, they integrate into a geospatial web framework the field activities of the building inspectors, the activities of the office staff, and the Automatic Inspections Telephone system. With the exception of functionalities used fo r data entry from certified staff, the whole permitting process from start to end, and the entire building construction historical archive for Alachua County for the past quarter century is publicly available via the web. Builders, contractors, homeowners, and homebuyers can monitor the process of construction in real time. They can view the results of plan examinations, the daily inspector dispatch allocations, inspector notes, inspector locations during the day, payments, holds, charges, and fines. They c an also schedule and cancel inspections, identify staff assigned to their construction site, etc. For each of the last 20 30 years and up to the minute, anyone can create maps that are dynamically linked to the full history


86 of building permits and inspecti ons in Alachua County. For each of the last 20 30 years and up to the minute, anyone can create a rich variety of reports in XLS PDF, HTML, or Text format for all types of building activities. The following is a description of its modules. Ge ographic Perm it Tracker (GeoPT). Anyone from the public or the county organization can use this component to map out permits that have been issued in Alachua County from 1982 till present. Permits can be mapped year by year or altogether, can be searched by parcel numb er, owner, address, etc. All corresponding tabular information to these mapped permits can be accessed or can be downloaded as an XLS or CSV/Text file. Aerial photographs and several other layers of information can be overlaid to the permits. From this com ponent one can search by inspection date or inspection zone and then map out locations of inspections which were scheduled for that date, either by phone or online the previous day. In addition, two types of reports with maps embedded in them can be automa tically generated from this mapper each day. These reports are used each morning by the inspectors and the Building Official as work orders to dispatch and assign daily workload for the Building Division. Build ing Permit Tracke r. With this module, anyone can track detailed Building Permits info from 1979 up to the minute. Anyone can view comments from plan examiners and inspectors in real time, as they are entered into the system via phone or computer. These permits are also t ied to corresponding maps in P DF organized by Section Township Range (STR). Searches can be made by Permit Number, by Name of Applicant, or by Name of Owner. Searches can also be made by Parcel Number or


87 S ection T ownship R ange /Land Grant, to yield a list of related applications for Zon ing, Zoning Variances, or Comprehensive Plan Amendments. Report Maker Permits, Inspections, Certificates of Occupancy, and all the wealth of the historical archive of building activities that resides in the internal system, are made accessi ble to anyone via this module Twenty five types of reports have been designed based on the needs of the public, the county staff, and the Florida Building Code. Users can generate yearly or monthly statistics for each of t he last 20 30 years for each of these 25 report types. Reports are availab le as a Web Page, a PDF file, a spreadsheet, and as customizable Map Products. Map Product reports include an Image Map customized by the user and its corresponding tabular inform ation in XLS and Text/CSV format. All reports are generated from live information. This means that for the current month one can generate progressive weekly, daily, or hourly reports. Morning Assignment and Dispatch of Inspection Work Orders This component provides for a variety of ways for the Inspecti on Work Orders to be plotted out and then divided among the inspectors. All is open to the public as well. Dispatching and Work Orders can be generated by zone, by day, by area, and so on Field Data Entry County employees from several county departments, such as environmental inspectors, fire inspectors, health inspectors, plans examiners, arborists, building inspectors, demolition officers, or front counter clerks, with a login, via the web interface, can also enter comments and results into the system. These comments and results are automatically displayed live on the web for everyone else to view.


88 Daily Monitoring of Inspection Progress This component has mostly been designed for the Building Official and the Assisting Building Official who can moni tor in real time daily progress and location for each of their inspectors from the Internet. As the inspectors process inspections around the county and they enter results via the web interface into the system, the list of the morning dispatch as assigned to each of them, shrinks gradually, for each completed inspection, till at the end of the day it becomes zero. This is also a list that anyone from the public can follow, if and when it relates to their own property. Public Scheduling of Inspections Eve ryone from the public or the county employees can schedule an inspection online for a building permit that has been issued. The public can log in using their building permit number as a unique identifier and the county employees can use their own log in. T he implementation of this feature which also works with iPhones has made obsolete the Automatic Inspections Phone system. Help Files and User Guides The tracker provides step by step user guides and ees, for each of its functions and features. These user guides are very detailed and are embellished with images and examples easy to follow. GeoWeb code enforcement tracker The GeoWeb Code Enforcement Tracker supports the Code Enforcement operations. It integrates on the web, in real time, public complaints, office activities of staff, and field activities of Code Officers. It also translates this information into interactive maps which are served on the web integrated with other public safety map layers.


89 Concerned residents, neighborhood coalitions, homeowners and homebuyers, can all monitor the entire process of code complaint and of code compliance from start to finish f rom their homes or offices. Anyone can submit complaints for violations, can upload pictures of the violation, can track the status of complaints and of action orders, can identify code officers assigned to a case, etc. Anyone can view, download, or create maps which are dynamically linked to the full history of code violations in Alachua County from 1995 to date. Violation Reports from 1995 to date can also be created and downloaded in XLS PDF, HTML, or Text format. The Code Enforcement Tracker is availab le to all via the Internet and it allows for unlimited access and for input from the public. A few of its features in support of data input are available to authorized Alachua County employees only, with a login via the web. The tracker is composed of six modules as described below: Public Submission of Code Violations Anyone from the public can submit a complaint for what they believe to be a zoning code violation. Anyone from the public can also upload a picture of the violation they have observed. They have an option to remain anonymous, or to provide their name and address if they want to be contacted. An automatic email triggered by this submission is simultaneously sent to Code Enforcement staff. Complaint Assignment and Dispatch of Action Orders Thi s component provides for recording of information received from the public from the web and from the telephone; provides for screening and verification of the validity of a complaint and for dispatch and Action Order assignment to appropriate Code Officer; it also allows for


90 assignment of Code Cases when an Action Order becomes one. Dispatching and assignments can only be done by a county authorized user and can be generated by zone, by officer, and so on. All information is open to the public for view in r eal time. Complaints, Action Orders, and Code Cases Tracker With this module, anyone can track violation complaints, related Action Orders if the complaint has been judged valid, or Code Cases when the Action Order becomes one. Anyone can view comments fr om officers or the complainer in real time, as they are entered into the system. Searches can be done by Action Order number or by Code Case number. Geographic Permit Tracker (GeoCE) Anyone from the public or the county organization can use this componen t to map out violations that have been issued in Alachua County from 1995 till present. Violations can be mapped year by year or altogether, can be searched by parcel number, owner, address, violation type, open or closed case, etc. All corresponding tabul ar information to these maps can also be viewed or downloaded as an XLS or CSV/Text file. Aerial Photographs, FEMA flood zones, and several other map layers can be overlaid to the violations. Report Make r Code violations and all related information on Co de Enforcement activities that resides in our internal systems, are all made accessible to anyone via this component. Users can generate yearly or monthly statistics for each of the last 13 years for each violation type. Reports are available as a Web Page a PDF file, an XLS spreadsheet, and as customizable Map Products. Map Product reports include an Image Map customized by the user and its corresponding tabular information in XLS and Text/CSV format. All reports are generated from live information. This means that for the current month one can generate progressive weekly, daily, or hourly reports.


91 Help Files and User Guides The tracker provides step by step user guides and tions and features. These user guides are very detailed and are embellished with images and examples easy to follow. GeoWeb impact fee calculator The GeoWeb Impact Fee Calculator application supports the operations of the locally adopted impact fees. Impa ct fees are fees charged to a developer, to recover a portion of the public cost that is needed to service the new development. Adopted impact fees in Alachua County are for parks, fire protection, and transportation. The county is divided into three distr icts. In each district different impact fees are applied. Generally impact fees are assessed preliminarily, and are re evaluated and paid at the end of the building permit process (before the development enters the tax roll). The impact fees are proportion ate to the development, and they are calculated based on a combination of many variables. These fees are substantial. For example, the total annual fees for the year 2009 amounted to over $2 million. Prior to the implementation of the open systems applicat ion this entire process was handled mostly by one planner, the impact fee administrator. He ha ndled this process via a spreadsheet which was under his sole custody. This spreadsheet was a floating table that was not integrated with the CD Plus application Module which collects and stores financial information. At the end of a development the planner would make the final calculation in a spreadsheet, and then he would enter the due fee data into the building permitting system manually. Thi s not only created delays and redundancy in work flows, but at the same time allowed for human error and opaqueness, as staff ventured back and forth between CD


92 Plus and the floating spreadsheet t able. In addition, as this spreedsheet was limited to one st aff use, building permit clerks and the impact fee administrator received an average of 75 100 public inquiries per month asking for assistance with the calculation of impact fees. The GeoWeb Impact Fees Calculator application transferred this entire proce ss in the open and on the web. The developers and the planners (including the impact fee administrator), could now see where the fees were being charged, and how much was being paid, in real time. In addition, this application brought about an unanticipate d improvement to this process. When impact fee data of collected fees prior to the implementation of the open application was mapped, it showed that 10% 20% of this data was not in the proper district for which rates the development had been charged. The G eoWeb Impact Fee Calculator serves three groups of users: building clerks and the impact fee administrator, the development community, and individual citizens. The calculator allows builders, realtors, developers, and home owners to estimate impact fees by themselves as part of the budgeting process for a new development. They can select any number of existing and proposed land uses and define intensity. They can search the interactive maps to determine district number and residency in Urban Cluster. They c an enter all other information as it relates to their project. The result is a summary of the impact fees for Transportation, Park, and Fire presented in a cross converted into a f ormal report, with a date stamp, etc. The report is downloadable in HTML and Adobe PDF. The GeoWeb Impact Fee Calculator consists of three modules: A public facing Impact Fee Calculator for unlimited public use An internal Impact Fee Calculator for au thorized Alachua County staff use


93 An internal Administrative Console for authorized Alachua County staff use It is important to note that the GeoWeb Impact Fee Calculator, unlike the other three applications, was partia lly contracted out to a vendor tha t provides open source services. The portion of the application that was developed by the vendor was thus not lic ensed to Alachua County, and its code was made entirely available to the county. GeoGreen mapper An Energy Conservation Strategies Commission (ECSC) was created in Alachua County following resolution 07 18, on March 27, 2007, of the Alachua County its relationship to climate change and local socio economic impacts, including actions that can be implemented by the Board of County Commissioners and the community at The Geogreen Mapper 1 application was developed in support of policy decisions related to these activities by pulling community data in an open and centralized location via an interactive map. For example, one of the recommendations of the final report of the Energy Conserva tion Strategies Commission was about creating connected districts with low speed roads that would accommodate neighborhood elect ric cars. Others involved the designation of green districts and green neighborhoods, and so on. The GeoGreen Mapper provided access to over forty map layers of green infrastructure and green living and to important related countywide studies. Users could interactively create their own maps on the web by choosing what layers to use. Pictures, web sites, and descriptive information were all integrated with each map layer. Some of 1 Green Maps are local maps which chart natural, cultural, and civic community resources in green living.


94 the map layers were regulatory, such as the preservation lands, others could b e created in real time by the users. A few map layers were updated in real time on the web as part Green pathways, such as scenic roads, trails, bicycle paths, bicycle facili ties, low speed roads, etc. Conservation and recreation, such as preservation lands, strategic ecosystems, priority ecological areas, champion trees, etc. Cultural preservation living, such as farmer markets, plant nurseries, recycle centers, thrift sto res, libraries, historic structures, historic markers, bike stores, parks and gardens, natural food stores, etc. The GeoGreen Mapper displayed for the first time in Alachua County, the historical archive of map locations for solar panels and for septic ta nk permits that had been issued over the years. As new building permits were issued, it updated their map locations in real time. The GeoGreen Mapper was also a database driven participatory web mapper. It provided for public input in registering and mappi ng of Green Buildings, connecting live to the Alachua County's building permits database. Anyone from the public could enter a permit number and then either upload an image of their Green Building Certificate or enter other information that shows green fea tures used in their building. After the upload of this information, they could immediately view their Green Building location plotted live on GeoGreen. Upon the validation of this information by county staff, the location of this Green Building becomes par t of the countywide Green Buildings map layer, and of the has never existed in Alachua County with almost no county resources.


95 A number of countywide studies releva nt to Green Living, were also integrated with the GeoGreen Mapper, such as a Bicycle Master Plan, a Recreation Master Plan, a Waterways Master Plan, etc. Unfortunately, the Geogreen Mapper has not been online since June 2012. The open system architecture A diagram of the overall architecture system for these applications is shown in Figure 3 7 Land administration data and geographic data are stored on a separate server. Land administration data is stored in an Oracle database (proprietary software). Geogra phic data is file based and in an interoperable format. On the web server, data used by the web applications is stored in a MySQL database (Open Source). Web pages were written in the PHP language (Open Source). They were coded by hand using Arachnophilia (Open Source software). The geographic components of the web applications were initially based on ArcIMS (proprietary software). A conversion of the geographic components from ArcIMS to GeoServer (Open Source software) was initiated following careful plann ing and a special study. While at the peak of its progress, in fall of 2009, the implementation of this conversion was interrupted. The design of the applications adheres to approaches of technological agility, and maintains separate layers of implementati ons for data, business logic, and interface. Each of these layers can be upgraded or migrated independently, providing for freedom of choice as opposed to vendor lock in. All tools were written with W3C web standards (XHTML and CSS). Data outputs are made available in several standard formats (HTML, PDF, CSV, and TXT). Their updates are displayed in real time on the web.


96 Figure 3 7 S ystem s A rchitectur e


97 T his model shows a peaceful coexist ence between an open system and a closed system. Most leading open s ource software s are compatible with proprietary solutions. In fact this case demonstrates just that Its system architecture remains a hybrid of open source a nd proprietary software Some new modules are integrated with the existing database that was cr eat ed from the proprietary software, others were based on new but integrated database s, o ne module ( a part of the Impact Fee application) was contracted to a vendor who was required to deliver the product open another module (contractor licensing), from the old proprietary system still remains in operation, as a full migration was abruptly interrupted in 2009 In addition the Alachua County model was also integrated with its existing and open Geographic Information System, and an existing and open planning do cument management system that supports zoning, and zoning variances applications. The open system process of development It is also relevant to understand the pr ocess of development of the new system. While it s development was highly suppor ted by organiz ational leadership it was not part of any plan, or budget cycle, or of any upper level direction. The new system was developed incrementally and outside of required daily responsibilities It was primarily driven by the initi ative of the GIS division and actively supported by it users It will, self discipline, and search for improvement. Therefore there were no organizational expectations for a roadmap, or for a strategic plan for the implementation of these four projects. Nevertheless, their implementation went through a strict structure of well defined stages, carefully crafted responsibilities. These stages were mostly driven by technological rationale, which were


98 carefully entwined with organizational needs. Although not in a traditional form, these efforts were rigorously documented. Overall, over the course of approximately three years this effort underwent through six major ph ases. The first phase was the proto phase During this time GIS staff experimented with isolated web solutions to problems that the users were encountering. It was a time for trials and errors with the goal of integrating the web and GIS with the propriet ary legacy system. The results that were obtained created the confidence of staff and of the users in the internal abilities to try and solve an old problem. During this period many incremental quantitative changes occurred which became significant enough to trigger the qualitative changes that followed. This phase lasted for close to six months. During the second phase a rigorous evaluation of the proprietary legacy system and of the Automatic Telephone Inspections Request system was conducted. This evalua tion which was documented in various reports, solicited extensive user input, and conducted extensive review of the documentation related to the legacy system. A meticulous user survey was conducted afterwards to help staff understand the depth and the ext ent of the current use of the system. Its results were used to plan for a way out of the legacy system by focusing on users rather than the system. This strategy is documented, too. This phase lasted for approximately three months. During the third phas e t There are eight modules in this product, each of which was created in a separate sub phase. This phase lasted for more than one year. During the fourth phase deve


99 There are five modules in this product, each of which was created in a separate sub phase. This phase lasted for more than months. During the fifth phase previous two. Each of them went through sub phases as they relate to their several modules and components. This phase lasted for about one ye ar. A portion of the source and open systems solutions, and it was then integrated with the rest. The sixth phase was the user testing stage. During this stage, enhancements, reported glitches, minor adaptations, and general improvements were implemented. This stage has in fact never ended. This is a fine testimony to the value of Open Systems and Open Technologies. Enhancements continue. Some of the suggestions come from the users others come from staff monitoring of user patterns. The typical approach in developing these projects was to iteratively go through a cycle of a first deploy ment of a quick prototype, reception of a first round of user feedback, a return to the proto type and improve ment based on feedback, accompany staff in the field to better understand processes, repeat this cycle several times till the users were fully content. This means that this process did not start in the traditional way of defining formal sof tware requirements at the beginning of the project, of designing diagrams of use cases and how they integrate with each other, etc. They were developed along the way. Comparing the two systems This part of the method identifies measures used for comparing the previous proprietary system with the new open system. As introduced in Chapter 1, in the section

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100 development of building permit and inspection technologies in the State of Florida is superior to the current proprietary one. This proposition is based on the fact that the primary difference between a closed and an open system (the cause variable in this proposition) stands with the conditions of system use. The Open System allows for four basic freedoms that are not allowed in the closed system. These are: freedom to run the system with no constraints; freedom to view the method used in its development, and to change it; freedom to share it with neighboring municipalities, or the public; and freedom to similarly share ones changes, enhancements, and contributions. It is these freedoms that lay the ground for (a) transformative improvements in delivery of services, (b) significant cost savings of public expenditures, and (c ) a drastic increase in governmental transparency, this study argues. The following three sections present research questions for each of these three dependent variables. These questions guide the identification and measurement of the indicators that provi de for a general comparison of the two systems in Alachua County. Quality of services Let us start with a brief background on the importance of the quality of services as it applies to planning, and to Growth Management The permitting processes are cons idered as one of the essential components of a well developed growth management system, along with long range planning, capital improvement projects, etc. Largely defined, growth management has six broad goals. growth management can cost deve lopers and in return consumers,

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101 contractors and laborers may be thrown out of work, not to mention the ge neral contractor or ancillary professional associates. To the developers, builders, contractors, and property owners, the result can be disastrous. Since the margin of profit per project is often slim and since lending institutions often compute their inte rest daily, delay can mean the difference between financial life and death to these entrepreneurs. A frequent complaint of the unsuccessful developer builder is that arbitrary, unduly complicated, incompetent or outright discriminatory code administration end enforcement systems are to blame, partially, or When delays caused by inefficiencies in the growth management process place in higher prices, and affect the lower end of the market, which in return negatively impacts planning programs for low income housing. Administration inefficiencies may also negatively impact economic development and cause loss of opportunities to the com munity. An effective administrative system provides a reliable platform to help developers or home builder to make decisions about when, where, and what to build or improve. An effective administrative system also helps growth management to respond to mark et needs in a timely and cost effective manner. The cost of construction for the year 2009 (a very slow year) in Alachua County which was handled by this building permit was at $120 million. This is a significant impact in the local economy. The essential differences between the two systems in relation to their quality of service can be summarized as follows.

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102 The old system was composed of four modules. Of these two modules had never been accepted by the users. Each module provided very limited services, had no geographic component, no web component, it was not integrated with other organizational information systems, it could only be used in the office, it could only be used by 30 40 authorized staff, it did not provide for ready access to the permitting process, and it did not provide for ready access to the historical archive of land administration records. It is not owned by Alachua County, or the public. Within thirty days notice it s sustenance could be taken away from Alachua County. The new system i s composed of eighteen to twenty modules. Each module offers a significantly broader number of services than either of the old two modules. They include real time integrated mapping, have a web component, have several Web 2.0 features, are integrated with other organizational systems, provide for unlimited number of users from anywhere, provide for full and ready access to the entire permitting system, and make publicly available in real time the entire historical archive for building permits, code enforcem ent, etc. for the last 20 30 years in a customizable way. It is fully owned by Alachua County and the public The following are a few research questio ns and derivate indicators tabulate d in Table 3 1 1. What new services were made possible for implementatio n by the introduction of the new open source system in Alachua County? Why was the prior implementation of these services not possible within the old proprietary system? 2. Has the extent of system use increased by the introduction of the new open system? If yes, in what respects (such as increase in number of users, increase in operating hours, improvement in usability, empowerment and engagement of users, etc.) has that happened?

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103 3. How has the new open system been embraced compared to the old, by the building community, the county staff, the county management, and the public at large? 4. Has the new open system introduced a better level of efficiency? If yes, h ow so? Table 3 1. Quality o f service comparison indicators Nr Quality Service Indicator Measure 1 Amou nt of services. Bulk nr 2 Type of service Web 2.0 (read/write). Yes/No/D egree 3 Type of service Geo enablement. Yes/No/D egree 4 Integration with other existing organizational systems. Yes/No/D egree 5 Data quality and integrity. D egree 6 Ability to correct, adjust, and improve. Yes/N o 7 Ability to reuse. Yes/N o 8 Extent of system use (number of users, operating hours, user engagement). Bulk N r It must be noted that quality of services also includes other indicators, which are less directly measu rable across systems and which measurement exceed the purpose of this study. Such examples that were presented in more detail in the preceding sections are related to the integrity in data entry, in aut hentication of data and in system performance as it relates to strict adherence with Florida Statutes As mentioned e arlier, these shortcomings are documented in a number of sources. They include the feasibility study from The Open Planning Project, the evaluation report from Mannion Geosystems, the assessment report from the GIS Division, and numerous email exchange s between the CD Plus administrator and its proprietor. These shortcomings are important as they capture a deterio ration in operational inte grity which shows a disconnect between the stringent guidelines of the Florida Legislation that take great caution to regulate the building profession, and the permitting

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104 process for the protection of public safety. They also raise flags about the trustwor thiness of the historical archive of the building permits, an issue which is directly related to public safety. Public records must be trustworthy 1 so that justice is realized, and the past is understood. And the way this trustworthiness is ensured and pro tected, is through procedural controls exercised over recordkeeping (MacNeil, 2000). The open system in Alachua County, which was built incrementally and with an active user participatory approach, has corrected these flaws. Cost Let us start with a brief backgrou nd on cost, and its importance to the development of these systems. The Florida Legislation in its statement of intent about and reasonable protection for public safety, health, and general welfare for all the people of Florida at the most reasonable cost provide for flexibility to be exercised in a manner that meets minimum requirements, is affordable does not inhibit co But how is the cost to the consumer defined? In Alachua County the building permitting process is funded through an Enterprise fund 2 The Enterprise fund is a substantial fund. In the year 2010 (a ve ry slow year for development), it accounted for twenty nine percent of the budget of the department of the Growth Management, or for approximately $1.3 million (Alachua County Annual Report, 2010). 1 Recor d trustworthiness has two qualitative dimensions: reliability and authenticity Reliability means that the record is capable of standing for the facts to which it attests, while authenticity means that the record is what it claims to be (NacNeil, 2000) 2 Enterprise funds, Alachua County, Florida,

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105 Unlike other types of funds, such as the funds that come f rom property taxes (i.e. General fund), the Enterprise fund is generated directly by services that are provided by the county to the public. These services include issuance of licenses, permits, fines, and other fees. While the Florida Legislature regulate s uses of this fund and sets some of the base fees, other fees to the public are set by county ordinance and can be changed at any time 3 It seems, from readily available documentation, that there is currently no required audit for the Enterprise fund. The audit would provide for inquiry on how and where these funds are spent. It also seems, from readily available documentation, that a proposal 4 was made through the Alachua County Charter Amendment Commission in 2009 to allow citizens to understand how and where their fees are spent. These facts and numbers show that savings in the management of building information systems could contribute towards lowering the county fees charged to the public (fees for a service are calculated based on resources needed to provide the service), or could create the conditions for implementing new services and programs, that would bring qualitative improvements to overall Growth Management operations. opment of building systems can lower and can make more affordable to the consumer the cost of securing public safety. The following are research questions related to cost comparison, and indicators derived from them as shown in Table 3 2 3 Building permit fees, Alachua County, Florida, http://growth 4 Yearly audit of enterprise fund, Alachua County, Florida, http://govconnect.alach 09 15.pdf

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106 1. What is the tota l c ost of ownership ( TCO 5 ) to Alachua County for the purchase and the operation of the old proprietary system during the years 2000 2008? 2. What is the general TCO to Alachua County for the purchase and the operation of the new system for the same product life cycle? 3. Was there a cost saving with the open system, and can it be quantified? 4. Can future cost saving for Alachua County be identified and quantified, in the hypothetical scenario that an open model is adopted statewide? Tabl e 3 2. Cost comparison indicators Nr Cost Indicator Measure 1 Upfront cost of system acquisition and license. $ 2 Cost for yearly maintenance and service. $ / Year 3 Cost for ad hoc services not included in yearly agreement. $ / Year 4 Cost of dedicated system administrative sta ff. $ / Year 5 TCO for life cycle. $ 6 Cost per user. $ / Year 7 Cost per permit $ /P ermit 8 Cost gain from quality of service increase (efficiency). $ /Year (FTE) It must be noted that true cost encompasses other indicators which are less directly measur able, and which were not considered in this study. One such example would be a replacement cost indicator. As shown in Appendix I, the contract agreement between Alachua County and its vendor, states that either party can terminate the contract within 30 days of written notice to the other. So, if something happens to this vendor Alachua County is left with no system, as opposed to the Open System which remains with Alachua County in perpetuity. An important related issue to this indicator is the data. In the Contract Agreement 6 between the county and the vendor, data ownership is separate from 5 TCO includes cost of acquisition and license payments, cost for yearly maintenance and service, cost for one time services, and cost of dedicated staff that is indispensable for sustaining a closed system. 6 4.1 O wnership. As between County and Consultant, except as set forth below in this Section 4, all right title and interest, including trademarks, copyright interests, and other forms of intellectual property, in and to the programming and materials produced or provided by Consultant, alone or in combination with

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107 software ownership. In the eventuality of a contract termination, the agreement provides for the software to remain with the vendor, and for the data to remain with the county. But what value does raw data by itself have without the appropriate software interface that allows entry, viewing, querying, understanding, report making, and manipulation of it? It is the software that translates its coded values into meaning ful information that anyone can understand. This becomes more important especially in an intense operational process such as the building and development permitting, where several transactions happen concurrently every few minutes by a number of people 7 T he ownership of the data is rather symbolic, and it does not have much practical value. While owning the data may have some strategic value, in reality it represents little value without the software interface that was used to create it. To replace the sof tware interface, an investment of substantial cost and time from the local government would be indispensible. This would include the time to budget, to seek out another product and another vendor, to undergo a Request for Proposal process, to wait for prod uct completion and customization, and to undergo the process of implementation, user training and acceptance, while separately starting the process of migration of the old database into the new. Typically in local governments this p rocess takes at the very this Agreement shall be the property of the Consultant. County agrees that, except as otherwise provided in Section 4.3 hereof, and contribution by County or its employees to the creation of the Software, including all copyright interests therein, shall be considered works made for hire by County for Consultant and that except as otherwise provided in Section 4.2 hereof, such works shall, upon their creation, be owned exclusively by Consultant. 4.3 County Data. remain the property of County, whether or not s 7 In the year 2010 (a slow development year) 4,251 permits and 11,076 inspections were issued. Several transactions by several people are needed for each of them.

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108 least 2 to 3 years. Thus a termination of the contract from the vendor not only would be paralyzing to the operations of the building and development department, but it would also trigger a costly replacement. Transparency Let us start by emphasizing tha t the words transparent and open will be used interchangeably in this context. The positive impact of open and interoperable systems has already been recognized and has been widely tested. The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), a global standard setting for um which promotes openness and interoperability, provides ample research, and case studies on this topic. O pen systems and open standards are increasingly becoming important generated content from the fringe to the mainstream (Howe, 2009). This new model of user generated information plays especially an increasing role in emergency and disaster management, which is an area directly related to building permits and inspections. The PeacebuildingData group, a program established between UC Berkley and Harvard University that develops applications for on the ground humanitarian crisis manage ment is known for having created a number of successful open systems in support of ground emergencies. If an information technology system is based on open systems, the likelihood for making it interoperable with other systems increases exponentially. Ther efore if we considered transparency interchangeably with openness, and defined it as a way to

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109 freely access and integrate with the software, we can safely argue that the Alachua County open system is superior to the closed one from the transparency perspec tive. But that is one side of transparency. Transparency can also be defined as transparency of content, or the ability to have ready access to information at the very time when one needs it. This other side of transparency relates more to data rather than to technology (software and databases). Transparency of content, which includes transparency of operations, is defined as the ability to access the entire system from anywhere, at any time, and from everyone. This is what the open system implemented in A lachua County provides. This transparent system can also help with accountability, which can be defined in three types: administrative or customer service accountability (for example response time by support staff), professional accountability (for example accuracy, authenticity, and appropriateness of interpreting the code by the certified staff), and political accountability (for example favoring an entity, or bowing to political pressure). But let us expand on the components of the operational transparen cy from the perspective of whom it benefits. Operational transparency is about transparency in the content of the information (what), about transparency in the sequence of the operations (when), about transparency in revealing the staff responsible for the specific task (who), and about transparency in revealing location of development and/or inspection staff in the field (where). And who are its beneficiaries? The building inspectors and their management, who can follow live on each coordinate the entire process by location, and who can dynamically change their work according to need.

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110 The building industry for which time is big money, and which now can follow live on each of the steps of t he process and prepare or change plans accordingly but which at the same time is also a participant in that process by entering its own input when needed (such as scheduling an inspection). The publishers and analysts of building and construction data an d the real estate profession that follow closely on the pace and types of development, or the economists and the researchers who seek to understand the community. The public at large can also monitor and observe the process, and this notion alone, if not its application, raises the bar of responsibility and accountability for this highly regulated and often disputed process. In addition, the ability to have real time access to structural information (i.e. permitting administrative records) for building i nspectors, volunteers, and decision makers during emergency response times is also very important. Accurate information about pre disaster conditions on the ground is indispensible for proper decision making during post disaster operations. One example co uld be the need to identify where mobile homes of a certain age or substandard structures of a certain age are located when preparing for a natural emergency. The local government building department is the legal custodian of this type of information. And there is yet another group for whom this transparency matters significantly. The planners. The minute by minute transactions related to building construction, which at the end of the process conclude with the issue of a certificate of occupancy (CO) for t he dwelling, incrementally create a data historical archive in the community. Day by day these transactions are collecting valuable primary data. These data are needed by the planners in order to be able to evaluate and appraise past plans, and to formulat e new ones.

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111 Examples could include the need to identify where the septic tanks of a certain age are located in a community, or where solar panel permits have been issued, and so on. The following are a few research questions and derivate indicators about the transparency variable shown in Table 3 3 1. O PEN DECISION MAKING Did the replacement of the proprietary system with the open system increase the level of transparency of the building and inspection operations in Alachua County? 2. O PEN ACCESS TO PUBLIC D ATA Did the replacement of the proprietary system with the open system increase the level of transparency of the historical archive of land administration records in Alachua County? 3. O PEN ACCESS TO PUBLIC LY OWNED SYSTEM Did the replacement of the propriet ary system with the open system bring a benefit to the public and to organizational resources? 4. O RGANIZATIONAL RESOUR CES Does increase in the level of transparency increase organizational efficiency? Table 3 3. Transparency compa rison indicators Nr Trans parency Comparison Indicator Measure 1 Transparency of operations for the building industry. Yes/No/D egree 2 Transparency of operations for the public at large. Yes/No/D egree 3 Transparency of oper ations for the organization Yes/No/D egree 4 Tran sparency of operations for permit ting staff. Yes/No/D egree 5 Transparency of operations for planners. Yes/No/D egree 6 Transparency of the data as a public record. Yes/No/D egree 7 Openness of the system as an inter operable product. Yes/No/D egree 8 Transparency as availability of use and re use and as a public asset. Yes/No/D egree It is important to note that in indicator 8, we capture the issue of ownership and copyright of the system (software and database). One of the most important aspects of transparency, or openness of the product (software and database) in a governmental setting, is also the issue of its copyright and license. The Alachua County open system is fully owned by the public, it is not copyrighted and therefore it is not lice nsed It is a

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112 product in the public domain. According to the Florida public record law (Chapter 119, a copy of the and to also explain the exceptions to this process, which include licensed data and software, as is the case with the proprietary system in Alachua County Fl orida Local Governments As previously discussed in the section Research Design, a geospatial database was developed for the second unit of analysis with data from a stratified representative sample of local governments in the State of Florida. It must be noted that only, excluding for obvious reasons, School Districts or Special Districts. The data used to build this database was collected with the purpose of understanding the pattern of development, or acquisition (the cause variable), of the building permit and inspection computational technologies by local governments in the state of Florida Understanding this pattern of development will help answer the following research questions: What is the extent of use of the proprietary systems by local governments for building permit and inspections? What is the range and distribution pattern of these proprietary systems across local governments? What is the scal e of parallel acquisitions from the same vendor by local government s? For the process of sampling, it was deemed necessary to ensure a balance of local government representation from three perspectives: the type of government (county vs. municipality), its pop ulation size, and its population density (urban vs. rural).

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113 Population distribution in Florida For a better understanding of the state of Florida from these three perspectives, Census 2010 Data was synthesized in a geographic information system. There are 478 local governments in the state of Florida. Of these, 67 are counties, and 411 are municipalities. County population varies from 2,496,435 in Miami Dade County, to 8,365 in Liberty County (US Census 2010). A general overview of the distribution of t he population by political jurisdiction is provided in the following maps. Figure 3 8 categorizes Florida counties by population size in three major groups, and Figure 3 9 categorizes Florida counties by population density in two major groups. Fig ure 3 8 Florida counties by population size.

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114 Fig ure 3 9 Florida counties by population density. Of the 411 municipalities in the state of Florida, eighteen have a population of more than 100,000 and are considered large cities (United States Census Bureau, 2 population. These eighteen cities are: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Hialeah, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale, Port Saint Lucie, Pembroke Pines, Cape C oral, Hollywood, Gainesville, Miramar, Coral Springs, Clearwater, Miami Gardens, and Palm Bay. Figure 3 1 0 below shows their location.

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115 Figure 3 1 0 Florida counties, cities, and large cities. The goal was to create a probabilistic stratified sample for representing these variable that is the pattern in building permit technology devel opment (or acquisition) in these local governments. Local governments with Alachua County To support the decision of the sample selection, it was also considered to be of importance the identification of other counties and mu nicipalities in Florida that are

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116 using the same closed computational building permit technology as the one that was in use in Alachua County. As this information could not be found in the web site of the vendor of the product this da ta was collected by searching throu gh Florida local government web sites and documents, and by cross referencing the results with public documents collected for the Alachua County case study. As shown in Table 3 4 below, the results indicate that the Alachua County proprietary system vendo r provides for seven counties and nine cities in Florida. Table 3 4 Florida local governments w ith the same closed system as Alachua County Seven Counties Alachua, Charlotte, Flagler, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Monroe Nine Cities Clermont, Doral, Holm es Beach, Largo, Medley, Mount Dora, Oakland Park, Palm Coast, Parkland This data was then entered into a geospatial database. The resulting map shows that most of the towns and cities that are using the same closed product from the same vendor as the Al achua County are spread throughout Florida. As shown in Figure 3 1 1 below, two cities (Clermont, and Mount Dora) located in Lake County have acquired the same system as Lake County; one city (Palm Coast) located in Flagler County has acquired the same syst em as Flagler County; two cities (Oakland Park, and Parkland) are located in the same county (Broward), and two cities (Doral, and Medley) are also located in the same county (Miami Dade).

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117 Fig ure 3 1 1 Florida local governments with the same closed syst em as Alachua County. Results of an inquiry into the population size of these nine cities are shown in Table 3 5 below. The inquiry reveals that none of these cities is a large city. Their population fluctuates between 1,500 in Medley, to 72,000 in Largo. Table 3 5 Population of cities w ith the same closed system as Alachua County. Clermont (10,00), Doral (40,000), Holmes Beach (5,00 0 ), Largo (72,000), Medley (1,500), Mount Dora (12,000), Oakland Park (45,000), Palm Coast (50,000), Parkland (25,000) Fi gure 3 1 2 below, shows the location of these cities in relation to large cities, and to rural and urban counties in Florida.

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118 Fig ure 3 1 2 Florida counties by population density, large cities, and cities with the same closed system as Alachua County. A nother similar inquiry was made into the population size, and population density shown in Figure 3 1 3 and in Figure 3 1 4 below. These overlays reveal that the seven coun ties with a similar proprietary product as Alachua County are counties with a rural character. In sum, we have identified a fair representation of rural counties, and of small cities in Florida whose pattern of development (acquisition) of building permit technologies we know. These seven rural counties, and these nine small to medium

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119 cities, use a closed and proprietary system for their building permit computational technologies that more or less has the same characteristics of quality of service, cost, an d transparency as the one previously used in Alachua County. Fig ure 3 1 3 Florida counties by population size overlaid with counties with the same closed system as Alachua County.

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120 Figure 3 1 4 Florida counties by population density overlaid with counti es with the same closed system as Alachua County. S ample of other l ocal governments Based on these findings, in order to ensure a good cross section representation of governments by their type size and urbanization level, and a balanced geographic distr ibution across the state, three additional counties with urban character, and three large cities were selected as a sample. The three counties are: Hillsborough, Leon, and Orange. The three cities are: Tampa, Tallahassee, and Orlando. Figure 3 1 5 below sh ows their location.

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121 Figure 3 1 5 Florida counties by population density overlaid with the three counties and the three cities in our sample. As it can be seen in Figure 3 1 6 below, our sample of three urban counties, and three large cities, will compleme nt the seven counties and t he nine cities whose pattern of acquisition we already know. The combination of the two groups gives us a good representation of local governments in the state of Florida.

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122 Fig ure 3 1 6 Florida counties by population density o verlaid with counties and citi es with the same closed system as Alachua County, and with the three counties and the three cities in our sample. For this sam ple of six local governments four teen dependent variables were collected from various public data a nd sources and from telephone in quiries when it was necessary. Table 3 6 shows the four teen variables and their unit of measurement.

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123 Table 3 6 Florida local government var iables and units of measurement Nr Variable Unit of Measurement 1 Population serv ed by the local government. Total Persons 2 Per capita annual revenue of the local government 8 Dollars 3 Per capita annual expenditure o f the local government. Dollars 4 Existence of a computerized system for building permits activities. Yes/No 5 Man ner of development of the computerized system. Open/Closed/Mixed 6 Manner of acquisition of the computerized system. In house/Purchased/Mix 7 Provider of the computerized system. Name of vendor 8 Purchase cost of the computerized system. Dollars 9 Ann ual operating costs of the computerized system. Dollars 10 Number of licenses for staff users. Number of users/Unlimited 11 Online data entry for staff Yes/No 1 2 Online accessibility for users Yes/No 1 3 Web 2.0 features. Yes/No/Somehow 1 4 Geo enabl ement Yes/No/Somehow Summary In this chapter, we have presented the framework for the current research. Seeking to attest its theses that an open system is better than a closed one in the context of building permitting activities of local governments in the state of Florida this research compares these two systems by exploring three main variables: quality of services, cost, and transparency. It also surveys the nature of the current pattern of development (open vs. closed) of building permit computatio nal technologies in local governments thro ughout Florida. In the first unit of analysis (Alachua County), an understanding of each of the systems was first established, followed by an exploration of the three variables as they relate to each of the two cor responding systems in use: the closed system, and the 8 Revenue or expenditure per capita is used for a comparative contex tual reference only. Caution is used in its interpretation when comparing cities with counties as they each provide different services.

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124 open system. For each of these variables, their broad definition was first established, related research questio ns were built, and consequent indicators and measures were identified. In the second unit of analysis (State of Florida), an understanding of the level of urbanization across local gov ernments was first established. This was followed by the development of a geospatial database that contains local governments with the same system as the proprie tary one in Alachua County, and by the development of a geospatial database that contains the sample of other local governments to b e surveyed. It ends with the identification of corresponding indicators and measures to be used in the sample

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12 5 CHAPTER 4 R ESULT S organization. We modify techniques. We use them. We sh are them. We decentralize them. -Chris Hedges, in This chapter presents a summary o f findings and results. It is composed of two sections, one for each unit of analysis. In the first section, summaries of findings from In the second section, findings and re sults about the development pattern of permitting technology in local governments of Florida are provided. Alachua County As explained in previous chapters, this study argues that an Open Systems paradigm for the development of building permit and inspecti on technologies in the State of Florida is superior to the current proprietary one from at the least three perspectives: (a) quality of service, (b) cost of public expenditure, and (c) governmental transparency. Summary descriptions were provided for the proprietary, and the open systems descriptions were followed by expanded definitions of each of the three perspectives that are being considered: service cost and transpar ency ; and by research questions and related indicators that were developed with the goal of creating a genera l frame by which to investigate and compare the two systems. Further summarized findings organized by each variable are presented below. It should be noted that often indicators

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126 may fall under more than one variable. For example, an efficiency indicator can fall either under quality of service, or under cost. Quality of Service As detailed in Chapter 3, the re search questions that guided the invest igat ion of this variable were about: (a) new services in the new system which did not exist in t he old, (b) expansion of use in the new system from the perspective of numbe r of users, hours, etc., (c) system acceptance and utilization by various actor grou ps such as builders, public, etc., and (d) levels of efficiency in operations. Eight indicators were identified such as: amount of services, web 2.0 services, geo enabled services, integration with existing information systems, data quality and integrity, ability to change, ability to reuse and share, and extent of system use by hours and users As demonstrated by the summary description of these two systems in the results show that these eight i ndicators could barely capture the disproportional difference in quality of service between the two systems. The new system has literally transformed how staff, builders, planners, and the public daily engage in the permitting activities. An account of thi s transformation is provided in documents included in Appendices E, H, J, K, and L, written by the two Building Officials (one retired), the Assistant Building Official, and representatives of the local building community. In these accounts they report ab out the difference in quality of services between the two systems, emphasizing the superiority of the new and its transformative impact It is a wonderful system. It gives us 2 4 hour access to the information where in the past, with only the phone system, we could call in 24 hours but half the time it wasn't working and

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127 we had no real or the Assistant Building Official (Appe The permit tracker software is now our primary operating system. Building inspectors and code officers have accepted it with enthusiasm largely because they were allowed to participate in its development Building Official (Appendi With the addition of the Building Permit Tracker on their laptops, Building Inspectors and Code Officers have the ability to thoroughly document and schedule inspections and make any necessary changes from the office, field, or home. This has been a cost and time savings not only for travel, but with increased efficiency in field inspections. The use of the GeoMapper and the ability to In addition, the national recog nitions awarded to various modules of the new system by well reputed local government programs and associations (Appendix E), are a testimony to its quality of service in the context of contemporary United States local government technology standards. In t echnical terms, the web usage of the suite of the new applications shows 900 to 1,000 transactions per day in the year 2009. A transaction defined as a user scheduling from home a building inspection for the following day, or a user filing a code violation complaint, or a developer making a preliminary estimate of her Impact Fees, or staff registering a Green Building into our GIS database, etc. All field employees for the first time started using iPhones, laptops and printers in their vehicles. Two divisio ns, which account for 30 percent of the Growth Management department, started working remotely, communicating with each other, their supervisors, and customers via the web. As these applications included sub modules for remote supervisory dispatching and

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128 f ield monitoring connected live to location on a map, the Building Official and the Code Supervisor minimized their travel time. The implementation of these projects, also improved performance in six other departments in the county that were part of the per mitting process. From a quantity perspective the proprietary system was composed of four modules (two never accepted), each with very limited services and with no geographic intelligence. Some of its services such as the vastly used report making were on ly available for one or two specialized and authorized individuals, and depended on other proprietary software. The new system is composed of 18 to 20 modules, each offering a significantly broader number of services than each of the four modules above, an d include real time mapping. No specialization is needed for its use, as all design is simple and services are open. From the extent of system use perspective, while the proprietary system was serving 35 to 40 licensed users, in the office only, five days per week from 8 am 5 pm; the new system served in the year 2009 close to 1,000 transactions per day, with lower numbers on weekends, twenty four hours per day, which statistics translate into 300 to 400 unique users per day. While the proprietary system was used by one user group only the Alachua County licensed employees, the new one provides for use by several types of groups. Web statistics in 2009, show the following breakdown by web user groups: Alachua County users 400 (of which 35 40 with vari ous levels/areas of write privileges), Commercial Sector Users 16,900 (.com), Educational Sector Users 4,703 (.edu),

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129 Governmental Sector Users 900 (.gov, state, .us), Non for Profit Sector Users 460 (.org), and there are a few others not identified The GeoWeb Building Permit Tracker (analogous to one of the two modules in use in the old system), from a functionality perspective, integrates into a geospatial web framework the field activities of the building inspectors, the activities of office staf f, and the Automatic Telephone Inspections Request system. Builders, contractors, homeowners, and homebuyers can monitor the entire process of construction, from start to finish in real time. They can view the results of plan examinations, can schedule and view inspection results, identify staff assigned to their construction site, etc. For each of the last 25 years and up to the minute, anyone can create maps that are dynamically linked to the full history of building permits and inspections in Alachua Cou nty. For each of the last 25 years and up to the minute, anyone can download a rich variety of reports in XLS PDF, HTML, or Text format for building activities, inspections, field entry results, and telephone messages. The GeoWeb Code Enforcement Tracker (analogous to one of the two modules in use in the old system), from a functionality perspective, integrates on the web, in real time, public complaints, office activities of staff, and field activities of Code Officers. For the first time it also translat es this information into interactive maps which are served on the web integrated with other public safety map layers. Concerned residents, neighborhood coalitions, homeowners, and homebuyers, the Zoning Administrator, the ode Officers, etc., can all monitor the entire process of code complaint and of code compliance from start to finish. Anyone can submit complaints for violations, can upload pictures of the violation, can track the

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130 status of complaints and of action orders can identify code officers assigned to a case, etc. Anyone can view, download, or create maps which are dynamically linked to the full history of code violations in Alachua County from 1995 to date. Violation Reports from 1995 to date can also be created and downloaded in XLS PDF, HTML, or Text format. And finally, the new system also improved on a number of issues related to data entry quality, and to data authenticity that had for long been acknowledged in the proprietary system. These issues were iden tified by staff over the years, and they were later verified, and articulated by formal professional assessments. As mentioned in Chapter 3, the feasibility study conducted by The Open Planning Project in 2007, compiled a number of system quality issues i n its final report to the county, after conducting an analysis of its security and workflows, and after conducting interviews with the users. An evaluation report conducted by Mannion Geosystems in 2007, identified system shortfalls that put to risks the i ntegrity of the permitting operations. This allowed for a time gap of lost permitting records), and with a non existent installation and configuration package necessary for a system recovery, or for a system migration. An assessment conducted by the GIS Division of the Department of Growth Management in 2007, which included a user survey, reports routine system errors, or malfunctions which additionally compromised the integrit y of the system. Examples were: (a) the system not recognizing automatically that a permit had expired, or (b) not recognizing automatically that the license of a contractor had expired, or (c) that the insurance of a contractor had expired, or (d) that a code violation record number was

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131 identical to a permit number, and so on. In Appendix N, an email exchange snapshot between the proprietary system adminis trator and its vendor shows a few of these issues. A reference to them can also be seen in the system evaluation provided by the The records were not on line and a new canned system had a large price tag. It also would not allow the staff to provide input to personalize the system for our particular use and would not have p rovided the daily technical assistance or telephone calls for the building department staff as they had to record other Cost As shown in Chapter 3, the research questions that guided the investigation of this variable were about: (a) the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the old system for the time frame 2000 2008, (b) the TCO for the new system for the same time frame, (c) the identifica tion of any cost savings from the implementation of the open system, and (d) the investigation of future cost losses or saving. Eight indicators were developed. They included: upfront cost of system acquisition and of system license, cost for yearly maint enance, cost for ad hoc services outside of the yearly maintenance, cost of dedicated administrative staff, TCO, cost per user, cost per permit, and cost gain from quality of service increase (efficiency). The summarized indicators for each of the two syst ems are provided below in Tables 4 1, and 4 2. Clarifications, limitations, and assumptions that were made when compiling the tabulated summaries, follow each table.

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132 Table 4 1. Indicator results for the p roprietary system cost (2000 2008) N r Cost Indicat or Measure 1 Upfront cost of system acquisition and license three upgrades only. $185,000 2 Cost for yearly maintenance and service. $18,000/Ye ar 3 Cost for ad hoc services not included in yearly agreement. $17,500/Ye ar 4 Cost of dedicated system adm inistrative staff. $60,000/Ye ar 5 TCO for life cycle. $949,000 6 Cost per user (35 40 users). $3,162/Year 7 Cost per permit (4,081 permits in 2008). $29/P ermit In indicator 1 information about the upfront cost of system acquisition dates back to 1995 and it cannot be found. Therefore, the acquisition cost was not included. Only the three upgrades that occurred between 2000 and 2008 were included. In indicator 2 the fee for the year 2008 was considered (Appendix O), although that cost has fluctuated o ver year, by $1,000 to $2,000. It is important to note that this cost is not refundable, it cannot be rolled over from year to year (Appendix I), and estimates for the maintenance work conducted under this cost, were opaque to the county. In indicator 3 o ne hundred hours of additional services were assumed. This is a conservative assumption, given that changes to building codes, building permit fees, and to Florida statutes happen every year. The t includes In indicator 4 the operational budget for the full time salaried Program Analyst whose job functions were exclusively constrained to the administration of CD Plus, is included. In ind icator 5 only the cost of upgrades from indicator 1 is included, although the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should also include the cost of acquisition, in addition to the cost for upgrade and license payments, yearly maintenance and service, and dedicate d staff. In indicators 6 and 7 we simply divide the yearly TCO for the number of licensed users, or the number of permits issued in one year

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133 Table 4 2. Indicator results for the o pen system cost (2000 2008) Nr Cost Indicator Measure 1 Upfront cost on e time only $19,000 2 Cost for yearly maintenance and service. $0 3 Cost for ad hoc services not included in yearly agreement. $0 4 Cost of dedicated system administrative staff. $0 5 TCO for life cycle. $19,000 6 Cost per user (350 400 users). $6 7 Cost per permit (4,081 permits in 2008). $0 8 Cost gain from quality of service increase (efficiency). $65,000/Ye ar (1 FTE) In indicator 1 the cost that was contracted out for a portion of the GeoWeb Impact Fee module, is included, although such a mod ule did not exist in the proprietary system. In indicators 3, 4, and 5 the value $0 is entered as there were no longer dedicated costs for these functions. But note must be taken that these functions were absorbed by existing operations due to the entire redesign of the organizational information systems, based on openness and integration. In indicator 8 we use the Alachua County effectiveness measure which was calculated by the Alachua County, Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In compliance with its financial policies, Alachua County annually p ublishes Performance Measure s for its programs as part of its budget document (Appendix P). In the year 2008, OMB assessed that the migration from the old system to the new brought about an effectiveness level that equates to 1 FTE (Appendix O). This was mostly due to streamlining, openness, and automations in internal organizational operations for the dispatching process in the building department. The number represents the operational budget for an entry level full time salaried building inspector. Results from these tabulated summaries reveal that the implementation of the Open System building and permitting suite of applications, not only did not require any additional investments, not only it lowered the co st per user and the cost per permit drastically, but in fact it even originated very significant, and annual recurring cost savings. The proprietary system which had been in place in its current form for seven to eight years, served between 30 to 40 author ized users at a tiny fraction of the services,

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134 and of the number of users served by the Open System. Its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which does not even include its initial cost of acquisition, comes at $949,000 in 2008, or $118,600 per year. The Open System, for which a sole investment of $19,000 was made (if we consider it), and which due to its openness was integrated with the existing infrastructure of software, hardware, databases, and staff, eliminated entirely the previous yearly operating budget of $118,600, and in addition, achieved an added actual operational cost saving of $65,000 per year. This actual saving of $183,600 per year, accounts for approximately 14 percent of the operating budget of the building division which is funded through an Enterprise Fund 1 In the year 2010, this budget was approximately $1.3 million, and it accounted for 29 percent of the total budget of the department of the Growth Management (Alachua County Annual Report, 2010). It must be noted that this saving of $183 ,600 is a recurrent saving which will continue with each year that the new system will be in operation. If we consider this saving for a time frame of five years (similar to the compilation of the TCO), from 2008 to the present 2012 (as the tracker is in o peration), 2 the result yields $918,000 in savings. This equates to 70 percent of the entire annual budget for the building department. The peculiar significance of this result is especially related to the fact that the Enterprise Fund can be rolled over fr om year to year, and by Florida Statutes can only be used for building permits operations. 1 Enterprise funds, Alachua County, Florida, http://www.a 2 Th is is a timeframe outside of the scope of this study for which we do not have actual data othe r than informal staff confirms indicating that no additional s pending has occurred on the new system.

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135 It is important to note in these broad cost comparisons, that two of the four modules in the proprietary system had never been in use. Had they been in use, the cos t for the proprietary system could have been higher. It must also be noted that these numbers and these indicators provide a general understanding of the cost differences between the two systems. Comparing the true cost of the two systems is not an easy t ask, and it involves many parameters. Such a task for a true cost comparison, if it is even possible, exceeds the scope of this study. Other cost related considerations are important to mention, although measurements for them were not conducted. By design ing the distribution of the products to be available with no restrictions via the Internet, daily operational costs have been lowered. Web statistics show that the new modules have shifted a substantial amount of county front counter operations to the publ ic, which is conducting business online. In relation, implementations of certain w eb 2.0 features provide for no cost solutions to the GIS data collection for solar permits and green buildings. The new system made obsolete the Automatic Inspections Reque st Phone System, which was previously integrated with the proprietary system. The use of the web and of iPhones gradually reduced its use down to 1 2 users per day. Its yearly operational savings was at $12,000 per year. By integrating the geographic modu le of the Code Enforcement Tracker with the Oblique Imagery (which provides for ready access to map locations of code violations overlaid with Oblique Imagery, and with other planning layers such as zoning, etc.), the code enforcement officers have won man y code cases at the Code Enforcement Board which they would not otherwise have won. In addition to safeguarding public safety, this also translates into revenues for the County. A case won by the county, means that the violator will pay a proportionate fin e. A typical annual revenue from code enforcement fines ranges between $20,000 and $30,000 in Alachua County. By using the integrated geographic features, and the Oblique Imagery from laptops or iPhones, code enforcement officers also downsized routine he licopter trips, and road trips on county vehicles for what they informally estimate to be at 85 to 90 percent of their work load. An effectiveness measure for the GeoWeb

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136 Code Enforcement tracker had not yet been developed in 2008 by the Alachua County Offi ce of Management and Budget, as this module was developed last. And finally, let us also turn our attention back to the relationship of ownership of the product and its cost. Alachua County fully owns these applications and it is free to use, reuse, or sh are them without a license, or fee, or any restriction. When the need arises to adjust and change them as the organization grows, the cost for these adjustments is not dependent on the rate or the quality of service of a particular vendor and can be compet itive. Full ownership also creates a prerequisite for better returns of public investments at a much larger perspective, when we take into account sharing and exchange with other local governments. This will hopefully be highlighted by the findings in our second unit of analysis, the State of Florida. Transparency variable was defined as part operational transparency (i.e. ready access to data and process), and as part transparency of the sys ownership and freedom of system use). In either one of the two part s there are also two intertwined sides to transparency. One side has more of an economic meaning, such as is the case with the increase in efficiency of operations; and the other side has more of a political meaning, such as is the case w ith public freedom of scrutiny and express ion In this context, it is also to be noted, that as mentioned in Chapter 3, certain indicators do not squarely fall under o ne variable only. This is especially applicable with the indicators of the transparency variable. These indicators overlap with indicators under the variable quality of service, and cost.

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137 As shown in Chapter 3, the research questions that guided the invest igation of the transparency variable were about: (a) open decision making (i.e. the increase of permitting process operational transparency from the replacement of the proprietary system with the open system), (b) open access to public data (i.e. the incre ase of transparency, or access to the historical archive of permitting records), (c) open access to publicly owned systems (i.e. political benefits to the public and to organizational resources from an open system), and (d) economic benefit to organization al resources (i.e. efficiency). Eight indicators were developed. They included: Transparency of operations for operations of the permitting staff; for the planners; open data as a public record; openness of the system as an inter operable product; availability of system for use and re use as a public asset. The summarized indicators for each of the two syst ems are provided below in Table 4 3, and Table 4 4. Clarifica tions follow for each table. Table 4 3. Indicator results for the proprietary system transparency Nr Transparency Comparison Indicator Measure 1 Transparency of operations for the building industry. no 2 Transparency of operations for the public at lar ge. no 3 no 4 Transparency of operations for permitting staff. 50% 5 Transparency of operations for planners. no 6 Transparency of the data as an open public record. no 7 Openness of the sy stem as an inter operable product. no 8 Transparency as availability of use and re use as a public asset. no In indicator 1 openness of the process of permitting, inspections, and code enforcement to the developers, and to the building industry is cap tured.

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138 In indicator 2 we address the general public, mostly home owners, who engage in renovations, additions, repairs, etc. They generate a significant portion of permits. In indicator 3 we capture not only the upper levels of the or ganization that ver y often need information to answer public inquiries, but we also address citizen advisory boards, or quasi judicial decision making bodies such as the Planning Board, or the Board of Adjustments, or the Code Enforcement Board. In indicator 4 we address se veral groups of permitting staff: the certified staff, the clerk staff, and the mid level management staff, such as the Building Official. Most of them are concentrated in the Building Department, but there are representatives in six other departments such as Fire, Environmental, Public Health, Public Works, etc. In indicator 5 we address the planners of the Comprehensive Plan division, the planners of the Development Review and Zoning division, and all the other planners in peripheral departments such as transportation, historic, housing, or environmental. In indicator 6 we address the historical archive of the rich data that is created by the daily processes and operations in permitting, and in code enforcement. This is mostly data used for public purpo se studies, by researchers, policy makers, neighborhood watch devotees, etc. There is also a vast need in this area by major organizations at the state and federal level to whom reporting on building activities every month by the county is required by law. groups did not have any type of ready access to this process at any point in it. Even from the 35 to 40 authorized users, only some had ready access to the operations. These wer e the close to ten building clerks who worked in the office. In principle, and by law, all of these groups were entitled to make a phone call to the office, or to place a public records request and to follow the lengthy legal process of obtaining the requ ested record. But this o nly means that they had access de jure but not de facto to the process which generates new data every five minutes. This type of access is not part of our definition of transparency.

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139 Table 4 4. Indicator results for the open syste m transparency Nr Transparency Comparison Indicator Measure 1 Transparency of operations for the building industry. 100% 2 Transparency of operations for the public at large. 100% 3 100% 4 T ransparency of operations for permitting staff. 100% 5 Transparency of operations for planners. 100% 6 Transparency of the data as an open public record. 100% 7 Openness of the system as an inter operable product. Y es 8 Transparency as availability of use and re use as a public asset. 100% It must be noted that with the measure 100 percent we imply that there is no information that resides in the permitting system which is not publicly and readily available to anyone, with no restriction, and in real time. This of course does not include information which is exempt from public records by law, such as a social security number, or a credit card number, etc. In indicator 7, we capture the inter operability as a potential mostly. That is why we use the me asure yes, rather than a specific degree. This is a very broad topic that exceeds the context of this study, but following is an attempt to an explanation. The underlying code in these applications was not initially written in a generic or portable way. Th e applications were highly architecture, operations, and organizational structure. This applies to the design of the internal architecture of these products, not to the design of their functions or to their user i nterfaces. Their functions and their user interfaces have been designed very generically and they can be ported anywhere just as they are. Good care was taken to design the internal code and architecture as generically as possible. But given the resources given the nontraditional approach that was taken, and given the nature of the work, this did not turn out to be an easy task. These four projects do not yet fit the definition of a general solution which can readily be implemented as is,

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140 and which can be deployed right out of the box to another agency with no effort or knowledge from them. So, yes means within the confines of Alachua County, but potentially within other confines if more effort is applied. In indicator 8, we capture the issue of ownership and copyright of the system (software and database). One of the most important aspects of transparency, or openness of the product (software and database) in a governmental setting, is also the issue of its copyright and license. The Alachua County open sy stem is fully owned by the public, it is not copyrighted, and therefore it is not licensed. It is a product in the person who has custody of a public record must allow th e record to be inspected and explain the exceptions to this process, which include li censed data and software, as is the case with the proprietary system in Alachua County. The issue of ownership of the product is an important aspect of transparency. Aside from the ability to change and share the product in order to improve it, the type of ownership of the product also defines the return on the public investment (i.e. payment of contractors). This is especially of importance in the current innovation economy, style, and part manufacturing process, can take hold whenever users can read and contribute Florida As explained in Chapter 3, to help answer the research questions about (a) the extent of use of proprietary sy stems by local governments for building permit and

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141 inspections, (b) the range and distribution pattern of these proprietary systems across local governments, and (c) the scale of parallel acquisitions from the same vendor by local governments two geospat ial databases were created in this unit of analysis. One database identifies nine small cities, and seven counties of rural character, all of which use the same proprietary system as the one in Alachua County. And, as the des a good understanding of these sixteen local governments, they were not explored any further. The other database identifies six additional local governments: three counties with an urban character, and three large cities. The cities are: Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee. The counties are: Orange, Hillsborough, and Leon. Fourteen indicators were identified for collection from each of them: population, per capita annual revenue, per capita annual expenditure, existence of a computerized system, manner of sy stem development, manner of system acquisition, provider, cost of purchase, cost of operation, number of licensees, online staff capability, online user capability, web 2.0 features, and geo enablement. The results of the data collection showed that all th ese six local governments (and many more by indirect discovery) use the same proprietary product for their building and development systems. This product is named ACCELA and it is provided by Accela Inc. Accela Inc. is based in California. Its web site indicates a company composed of 150 employees, and with 500 A CCELA product deployments nationwide. Little information can be found about these 500 customers, and little information can be found about the technology behind the product, or its integration ca pabilities. Based on

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142 information related to the sale of the product, ACCELA is clearly a proprietary product, which is licensed by number of users for data input, and which is based on a A further exploration of web site publicatio ns from each local government in our sample revealed that ACCELA is deployed (in parallel) more or less in the same manner in most of them. Consequently, the envisioned approach for collecting the fourteen indicators for each of the six governments in the sample, evolved into a broad evaluation of the ACCELA product. This will be laid out in the pa ges that follow, but in Table 4 5 and Table 4 6 below, a summary of the findings for most of the indicators is provided. Table 4 5 Indicator results for samp le cities Variable Orlando Tampa Tallahassee Population served. 238.300 335.700 181.376 Per capita total revenue ($). 3,587 2,268 5,780 Per capita total expenditure ($). 3,402 2,565 5,865 Existence of a computerized system for building permits. Ye s Ye s Ye s Manner of system development. P roprietary P roprietary P roprietary Manner of system acquisition. P urchased P urchased P urchased System provider. Accela Inc. Accela Inc. Accela Inc. Online data entry for staff. Y es Y es Y es Online accessibility fo r users. Y es Y es Y es Web 2.0 features. S omehow S omehow S omehow Geo enablement. S omehow S omehow S omehow Source: Florida TaxWatch, 2011, with data from 2009.

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143 Table 4 6 Indicator results for sample counties Variable Orange Hillsborough Leon Population served. 1,146.000 1,229.226 275,500 Per capita total revenue ($). 1,980 2,564 1,326 Per capita total expenditure ($). 1,980 2,564 1,326 Existence of a computerized system for building permits. Y es Y es Y es Manner of system development. P roprietary P rop rietary P roprietary Manner of system acquisition. P urchased P urchased P urchased System provider. Accela Inc. Accela Inc. Accela Inc. Online data entry for staff. Y es Y es Y es Online accessibility for users. Y es Y es Y es Web 2.0 features. S omehow S ome how S omehow Geo enablement. S omehow S omehow S omehow Note. Includes all taxing jurisdictions in county and uses total county population. Source: Florida TaxWatch, 2011, with data from 2009. Three indicators are missing from these tables: cost of purchase cost of operation, number of licensees. These three indicators had been selected to provide us with a broad picture of the cost of these systems. During the collection of the data, it turned out that finding information on these three indicators was not as straightforward a process, as it had initially been envisioned. Inquiries addressed to the individual local governments, at times went unanswered, at times provided conflicting information based on who was answering the question. In addition, as ACCELA is purchased in various modules, and in various models of deployment, it would have taken a long and separate study to compile reliable and accurate measures for these indicators, so that they would also be comparable amongst them. But it turned out, that this obstacle, did not affect our envisioned broad evaluation of the cost spent by these local governments in purchasing, and in maintaining building permit and inspection technologies as all of the findings converged into one product,

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144 ACCELA This way, b y shifting our focus in investigating the cost of purchase and of use for ACCELA as a general product, by any local government, rather than investigating separate costs by each local government, we are able to satisfy the cost concern in our sample. While it is not within our scope to compare ACCELA with either ACCELA has emerged as a significant product, provided below is a brief summary by our three variables. ACCELA It seems that ACCELA is use d in at least twenty local governments This information was found indirectly and by chance in public documents that relate to the local governments in our sample. In the ve approximate. From the inquiries conducted in our sample, Leon County and Tallahassee have made a joint purchase of the product. But although th ey have a joint contract with the vendor, they have two separate implementations of the system. Also, with the exception of Tampa, where ACCELA seems to be hosted in house, in the other local governments in our sample, ACCELA vendor. Cost Counties that have purchased ACCELA in the last five years include Brevard, and Escambia. Brevard contracted in 2006 for $2.6 million with ACCELA and Escambia contracted in 2007 for $2.3 million. Brevard has a population of 543, 376 (US Census, 2010), and a per capita revenue of $1,237 (Florida TaxWatch, 2011). Escambia, has a population of 297,617 (US Census, 2010), and a per capita revenue of $1,304 (Florida TaxWatch, 2011). As we can see, both counties are very comparable

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145 with Leon County in our sample. In addition, in 2012 the City of Tampa signed a contract with Accela Inc for $4. 4 milllion. It is very hard to decipher the particular modules and components that these contracts are purchasing. These contracts are sizeable doc uments (approximately 100 pages), not easy to understand, as they are not well organized, and as their language is highly specialized either within the constraints of organizational jargon and legal terms. One page sample of this linguistic b ureau cratic co nvolution is provided in Appendix Q It represents the first page in the 80 page contract between the City of Tampa and Accela Inc. Nevertheless, several patterns can still be discerned from these contracts. In all cases these costs (a) cover both the licensed/hosting and the annual maintenance, (b) they seem to include the code enforcement module, (c) they seem to license an average of thirty five data entry users per organization, and (d) they cover a time span of three to four years with a justificat year. In reference to the most important cost indicator that we identified for Alachua County, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), ACCELA has an approximate cost of $500,000 per year, which for a life cycle of eight years (our Alachua County time frame) results in at least $4 million. Transparency As A CCELA is a proprietary product, its ownership remains with the ve ndor and therefore the product is not available for scrutiny, or for reuse by the public or the local government. Many operations are available online, for the general

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146 user, but it seems that many restrictions are also in place. For example, contractor reg istration is required before being able to view certain operations. Although certain aspects of the permitting and inspection process are online, the entire permitting system from start to end does not seem available online. The code enforcement module do es not seem to provide its operations online, and neither are the daily dispatch operations, and inspector allocations available for view and interaction online. Access to the historical archive of building permits, provided via online reporting, is rigid and limited. There is not a wide variety of options for the user to customize its request, or to receive the product in any format other than PDF, and much less in a geospatial format. Quality of Service Several of the features that deal with quality of s ervice are also related to issues of access and transparency and they were included in the previous paragraph. Other features that deal with quality of services, such as data integrity and authenticity, cannot be assessed by exploring ACCELA as a user. But it is of importance to mention that although ACCELA is advertised as a product integrated with GIS, and in fact a separate module for GIS is sold as part of the product, the permitting and inspection system does not seem integrated with GIS when one uses the system in a general user capacity. It does not seem that a report can be created based on location, or that one can view permitting and inspections on a map. The GIS system that stores zoning and other planning information can be accessed by the ACCELA interface, but separately, not integrated with it. Web 2.0 features were also hard to find from a general exploration. It is very obvious though from this general exploration of

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147 ACCELA that its quality of services is by far superior than the one provided by the proprietary system used by Alachua County. But this higher quality is also reflected in its largely much higher cost. In sum, as it was expected, these findings reveal that the Alachua County is a pioneering case, and that most of the local governme nts in Florida use a proprietary system for their building and inspection technologies. As it was also expected, these findings reveal that Florida depends upon a very small number of vendors for the building and inspection technologies. These vendors ente r into separate parallel agreements with each local government, and remain in these agreements for lengthy segments of time, selling the same licensed product to each of them. Results about significantly high costs related to the purchase, and the operati ons of building permit and inspection technologies, also confirm the expectations, and the premises of the study. An integrated and conclusive discussion of these results is provided in the following chapter.

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148 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS As a result of more th an three decades of expansion of informational property rights, today's copyright regime is by far too rigid and is in practice profoundly at odd s with the digital environment. -La Quadrature du Net, in Beyond ACTA, Reform Copyright The last chapter i n this study contains three sections. The first section, and Future Research assumptions and limitations i n the data and me thod, and contemplates questions for closing thoughts about potential policy implementations related to this study. Summary In this study we set out to prove th permit technologies, creates the conditions for (a) transformative improvements in delivery of services, (b) significant cost savin gs of public expenditures, and (c) an increase in governmental transparency. To test this thesis, we used an exploratory single case study strategy with two units of analysis. First we analyzed a building permit and inspection computerized system develope d with an open paradigm by Alachua County, utilizing data from the 2000 to 2009 timeframe. Afterwards we examined the current level of adoption of the open paradigm used by local governments of the State of Florida. Results for the three variables in the Alachua County unit of analysis are as follows:

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149 Quality of Service The new system has literally transformed how staff, builders, planners, and the public engage with each other in the daily process of permitting, inspections, and code enforcement activiti es, and it has established a higher standard for data entry integrity, and authenticity. The core of this improvement is perhaps best It has an d of a local builder system. It gives us 24 1 Cost The previous proprietary system in Alachua County had a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of $949,000 (or $118,600 per year), for 2000 2008. It served 30 to 40 licensed users, and only in the office. The new open system had a total investment of $19,000 (or $4,750 per year), for 2008 2012 2 The total cost of actual savings from its implementation, was $183,600 per year. For the period 2008 2012 the value o f actual savings was $918,000. If we further considered a time frame of 2008 2016 (equal to the one used for the proprietary system), and the unlikely investment of $4,750 per year (most likely none), the value of the cost savings from the Open System is c onservatively predicted to be at $1.43 million. The Open System serves an unlimited number of users regardless of location. 1 Gainesville Sun 2008. County praised for new interactive growth management web site (accessed on January 20, 2012) 2 Data beyond the yea r 2009 were outside of our scope. But informal interviews with Alachua County staff indicate that no additional investments have been made from 2009 to 2012 in the Open System.

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150 Transparency This variable is defined as both ready access to transparency of data and operations, and as transparency of the produ ct (software, and related data and documents). Results on operational transp arency show that the entire building and permitting information system in Alachua County, is publicly available in real time, to anyone, anywhere, for the last twenty five years as opposed to the almost complete opacity of the proprietary system. Results on product transparency, as per the very definition of an open systems product, confirm that the new system is not copyrighted, and is in the public domain. By association, the open system carries the four classic freedoms: to use, to scrutinize, to change, and to share the product. This product is also a public investment upon which, not only county staff, but anyone from the public can also build upon. In fact, follow ing a requ est by the author application, was entirely transferred by Alachua County, to the GeoPlan Center of the University of Florida, within a matter of hours. Overall, the results from Alachua County are consistent with the established theses that free licensing leads to "better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower summarize on the process by which the four open system applications were developed in Alachua County. These products are not an adaptation or a replication of another innovation. They are original work, crafted carefully to fit an existing architectural system and organizational structure.

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151 The investigation showed that the conditions and the motivations that launched their creation are very similar to the conditions which research has consistently identified as typical triggers for the start, and the development of open source projects. Ju st as with open source projects, the Alachua County efforts were born, out of frustration with the old system, out of a desire to tinker with it, and with the purpose of helping to solve problems Their style of incremental development, with frequent rele ases that were tested and improved upon by a large base of users, resembles the particular style of open Similar to the free culture behind the open source movement, participating staff (develo struggle to find a way to solve a problem. They provided a "cultural subsidy," (Landini, 2012) and were willing to undertake risks and to utilize existing resources, rather than pursue extra resources. The work culture of the development staff had generated a grassroots support in the organization from those who would be the beneficiaries of these projects. These beneficiaries represented a broad base of tester/users, mostly from the low to the mid levels of the organization. It was mostly this grassroots support that on a daily basis generated the necessary progressive alliances and the rightful negotiations that sustained the temperance and the optimism that was needed for s uch a clearly significant task when considering the available resources. Results from the ten counties and the twelve cities examined in the Florida unit of analysis are, as follows

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152 The extent of use of proprietary systems by local governments for buildi ng permit and inspection technologies is pervasive, if not ubiquitous in the State of Florida. The Alachua County case is a pioneering example. The scale of parallel product acquisitions from the same vendor by local governments is high. We identified only two vendors that operate in the State of Florida, but this number could be higher. Each vendor had been contracted as a sole source provider. Each vendor services a range of approximately twenty local governments. Of the two different products that they o ffer, the Alachua higher quality, which shows less service features, and less transparency features than Alach a recurring cost of approximatel y $500,000 per year. These findings indicate that as predicted, the residents of Florida, through their representative administrative agents (their local governments), each year, collectively, make significant payments to vendors of building and permittin g technologies. A very broadly assessed sum of twenty governments for each of our two vendors averages at around $10 $12 million per year. Florida h as 478 governments who make separate parallel acquisitions of more or less the same products. In return fo r these high payments, the residents of Florida receive products which they can only use under dictated conditions, that they cannot scrutinize, improve upon, or share amongst themselves (as they ordinarily do with most public products). In more accurate t erms, in return for these payments, the residents of Florida rent these products, rather than purchase them. Their critical daily operations depend upon these products, which are immune from public oversight, and which these vendors can take away at a thir

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153 take away from local governments a number of public freedoms by not allowing them to modify and improve upon purchased products, which to common sense wisdom are forms of free expressi on and association. These rights are provided to the vendors through the legal system, as an exemption to the Florida public records law, or as The o rganizational model in local governments has a tendency to reward based on the size of the budget and on the size of the program, rather than on the quality or on the amount of services provided to the public. This dynamic does not create many incentives f or creating better systems. The processes of acquisition and development of computer systems have grown into intricate processes that support this status quo. An inordinate amount of staff time is spent during a Request for Proposal process, which routinel y end up with selections of locked in proprietary technologies that as our results demonstrate, foster subsidies with public resources to the vendors. These results have proven that contrary to conventional perception, improvements in governmental service s and in the democratization of public data and processes are not necessarily tied to the size of budgets. They just as well, and perhaps even better, can be obtained by transitioning from old paradigms into new ones, that are also more aligned with cont emporary models of development and acquisition, and which meaningfully include the users. It must be noted that an open paradigm can be used even when a project is contracted to a vendor. As long as the contract places the right licensing conditions that p rotect user freedoms to use that product. There are many vendors in the market that

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154 work this way, which as we saw in the study, was the method employed by Alachua County in one of its applications. In sum, this study is not proposing the replacement of t he current proprietary technologies in building permit and inspection technologies. It is only proposing th e expansion of the current paradigm of procurement, acquisition, and development pra ctices to formally embrace the Open S ystems method as an equal or perhaps better alternative than the proprietary one. Limitations and Future Research The importance of examining the limitations and the underlying assumptions that impact the validity of the results and conclusions of this work is important for proper i nterpretation and for translating the case study to other regions and other government functions. L et us acknowledge a few of the limitations and assumptions that have impacted this work. Firstly, t o say that the amount of data and documentation that wer e available for the Alachua County unit of analysis was overwhelming, this would be a modest understatement. The author had in her possession volumes of emails, reports, contract agreements, publications, presentations, policy documents, memoranda, et cete ra, covering a time frame of almost a decade. While on one hand this made for a vast and detailed information source to explore, this information store, on the other hand made for a very challenging task of extracting and distill ing what was of mos t val ue to the This challenge may have contributed to relevant data not being included, or to irrelevant dat a being included. Secondly, f or the State of Florida unit of analysis, the experience of collecting relevant information was reverse. Col lecting meaningful, detailed, and specific

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155 information from local governments about their purchasing contracts, and about documents and information related to building permit and inspection technologies turned out to be extremely challenging. Very frequent ly contracts and purchases are conducted in separate parts, and when only one of them was provided, the request was considered closed. At other times different staff within the same organization would provide different answers. Although, this challenge did not end up affecting the scope of the study, it would have been beneficial to have been able to collect higher quality data Thirdly, t he inherently poor and outdated outcomes from single vendor proprietary systems which the vendor has no incentive to improve, or to enhance in the absence of market competition (given the prohibitively high cost to local governments from switching vendors), were highlighted in the introductory p remises for the study and in the literature re view. The proprietary system was not an aberration, as sixteen other local governments in Florida also have use d it. Nevertheless, it must be noted, that this study has not made any attempts to argue that a good system that guarantees transparency and service quality at low cost, is only possible when it is built with an open model. Any such assumptions, if implicitly made in the study, were not intended. It is up to future research to visit this argument. And finally, the scope of this study was broad and it was a large scale exploration of the best manner by which building permit and inspection technologies can be procured, purchased, or developed i n the state of Florida. For this reason, the investigatio ns of this study were not meant to rigorously compare the merits and the

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156 details of one computational system versus the other, or of open source versus proprietary softwa re. The investigations were only meant to highlight the most relevant para meters for c omparing one paradigm versus the other. It is in this context that the results of this study should be understood and interpreted. This broad exploration could nevertheless, be a very good foundation for a more focused future research effort that would c apitalize on the ideas introduced by this study. The following are a few research areas that would complement this research and that would overcome some of the limitations. Given that public safety is the fundamental purpose of the p ermitting processes, in vestigating whether the adoption of an open pattern of development for building permit s inspections and code enforcements, impacts the outcomes of life safety and property safety should be explored Given the uniqueness of the Alachua Cou long term sustainability and effectiveness, by re performance, and incremental adaptation after a period of three to four years is worth considering Given the uniqueness and the success of the Al achua County investigating the process that created its open systems products, and finding out w hat were the ingredients and the combination of conditions that made it possible would be of value. Making a comparison from the use perspective of the Alachua Cou system with the oth er proprietary product which the results indicate that is serving twenty local governments in Florida would complement this research Conduct ing a comprehensive survey of the building permit technologies (or lack of them) use d by all 478 local governments in the State of Florida would fill in a gap that was beyond the capabilities of the available resources to the author Investigating whether a cost savings can be obtained when local government share permitting technology pr oducts, or parts of them, as opposed to paying separately f or the full cost of them, and whether a larger number of sharing parties, lowers their individual contributing costs is of economic interest to lowering the cost of governmental services

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157 Recommen dations The results show that not only do local governments in Florida overwhelm ing ly use proprietary software systems for building permit and inspection management t echnologies, but they also use the sole source contract model when acquiring these technol ogies. The sole source contract is a legally recognized exception which is usually part of the financial policies and pr ocedures of governments, and this provision is intended for use in situations wh en there is only one company that can provide the reque sted services and therefore a competitive contract bid would end up with the same company as the sole applicant. The sole source policy can be implemented very easily once a local government has received a certain service from a company for an initial co ntractual period From else i competitive contractual model explains the existence of only two vendors in Florida, which offer bu ilding and permit technology services, while each are contracted as sole source exception s This policy framework, combined wi th the legislative framework (i. public records law exemption for proprietary sof tware), have enabled a condition w here vendors have locked in a number of local governments for a lengthy period of time, thus perpetuating a mutual dependency between them and local governments. This situation constrains local government freedoms to share technology and to benefit from ea ch right to scrutinize and to benefit from public investments. This phenomenon is not only limited to local governments in Florida, or state governments in the United States, i t also extends to the fede ral government. A study

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158 conducted in 2009 from MeriTalk indicates that the United States federal governments cou ld save $3.7 billion from shifting to open source solutions. But in the past few years, the federal government has formally recognized the value of open source licenses (and open data) for its investments in Information Technology as a benefit to the public. As discussed in the literature review, in 2009, President Obama issued the Open Governm ent Directive, asking federal departments to take actions and to open their operations to the public. At its core, this directive has the open source principles of transparency, and collaboration. As a result, the Federal Open Technology Report Card was de veloped in 2011, by the Open Source for America (OSFA) 3 organization, who conducted a review of federal departments to determine their level of use of open source technologies. These efforts show that changes in policy and legislative frameworks are alrea dy in the formal agendas of the public sector. These improvements are imperative in our changed society where people are openly working together in unprece dented ways and scales, and where the emerging innovation economy and the public sector can mutually Results in our study show that it would be beneficial for Florida to foster open systems, and open technologies at the state level, and to propose amendments to current financial policies, or legislation that would include or consider the open alternative as a legitimate alternative. Although, an explicit impediment does not exist in 3 OSFA is an organization of technology industry leaders, non government associ atio ns, and academic and research institutions promoting the use of open source technologies in the U.S. federal government.

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159 the current legal framework to discourage the use of open licenses and open technologies, the mere absence of explicit policies or leg islation about them, encourages the continuation of the status quo. In the same way and much quicker and easier to implement, local government financial policies or administrative procedures for technology projects can also include policies that require the consideration of open systems or open technologies, either before considering sole source contracting, or before considering proprietary vendors, or a combination of both. As an example, o the r policies can also require that a local government negotiat e with vendors about the possibility of placing a product in the public domain, as an that this is very realistic, but other cases also exist, such as t he Law Enforcement Automated Data Repository (LEADR), which is an open source system that was initially designed by counties to share information across jurisdictions, and which is now used by hundreds of agencies. Other ways to support this effort in local governments could include e mployee incentives in administrative policies for their involvement or promotion of open system implementations. The value and the need for these policies, to encourage the use of open systems, will at a minimum protect individual efforts that will try to challenge the present closed model. Formal bodies that would have the authority to shape these policy improvements could include the Florida City and County Management Association, the Florida

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160 Association of Counties, the Florida League of Cities, the Flo rida Building Commission, the Florida Home Builders Associations, and the Building Officials Association of Florida. The inclusion of open ways to develop building permit and inspection computational technologies, as the results of this study have demonstr ated, fits well with the mission s and the goals of each of these entities from various perspectives.

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186 Retrieved January 20, 2012. From sector excellence/info/153/a web gis code enforcement tracker

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188 Retrieved January 21, 2012. From

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189 Retrieved, January 20, 2012. From ms/recognition/Pages/2008AchievementAwardWinners.aspx?PF=1

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190 Government Technology Magazine 1 (2008). 1 Retrieved January 21, 2012. From Mapper --An Interactive Green.html#

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191 Opinions from the Alachua County building construction industry leaders. 2 bout their home, such as whether it has solar panels or is a certified green building. The home appears as a point on the map. The county will be able to use this in future planning to create, say, a green community that would draw like minded residents. O r a real estate agent could be able to find a green house for a client. Gainesville's jurisdiction and then back out just to come into the office. This way the route is started much more efficiently. Contractors are using the system much more Reports are online in real time, so the permittee can view the inspection report or an inspector's schedule. Contractors can also leave inspectors notes online and find that their efficiency is improved. hour access to the information where in the past, with only the phone system, we could call in 24 hours but half the time it wasn't working and we had no real easier. We can leave notes online and they can lea The system has increased employee efficiency in a variety of ways, officials said. Building inspectors used to have to come into the office in the morning to divvy up assignments, drive to the assignments and then file their reports back in t he office. Now, however, they have laptops. They check in via computer for assignments, go straight to them and enter the report at the scene. That saves the county money and improves 2 Gainesville Sun. (2008). County praised for new interactive growth management web site Retrieved January 20, 2012. From

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194 Retrieved January 20, 2012 From http://growth Email communication with John Freeland, current Building Official for Alachua County, and assistant Building Official at the time of this communication. John Freeland Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 2:18 PM To: Juna Papajorgji Attachments: hillsborocountyfeetimestudy.pdf (767 KB ) ; JF UF Presentation (DB 7 2~1.ppt (220 KB ) Juna I attached a copy of the Maxi mus study from Hillsboro county, (the same company that put out a report for us) that I found on the net. On page 2 it lays out software infrastructure costs: $ 333,3347.00 for permitting software, 39k for data storage, 92k for computers. I do not know if t hese are annual costs or one time purchases but I was astounded at how much commercial software costs. It would be interesting to see what f eatures you get for that kind of money. I do not know if any of this helps but I thought you might find it interesti ng when looking at the value/ cost savings of the tracker systems. I also noticed that their .hourly productive rate. was 102.63. I have not seen our report but ours should be around 63$. I do not totally understand the formula but I think this could possi bly be compared as an indicator of department efficiency. I also wanted to let you know I did a 2 hour presentation last week at UF for the School of Building Construction. I introduced the Permit Tracker as part of my presentation with a short overview o f how to access it and what data might be useful to the students. The professor, (Dr Brown) asked for a list of thirty or so active commercial jobs that he could assign to students as research projects. He was delighted when I showed him that the students could be able to monitor them on the web. He has asked that I do this presentation (about 95% of the time is spent on building code and inspection procedures) every semester. I am attaching the power point that I start off with. I would love any comments o r critique. Thanks

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195 APPENDIX G EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE WITH PUBLIC AGENCIES From: Meeks, Travis (Engineering) [] Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 12:50 PM To: Papajorgji,Juna Cc: Brian, Scott (HCPID) Subject: Our Approach with Participatory D esign and Open Technology Juna, Hi, my name is Travis Meeks and I work for Harris County, Texas which encompasses the City of Houston. I read a fascinating article I got off of the ICMA website you had put together. I wanted to know if there was any way I could gather more information related to your discovery and implantation of the Alachua County Permitting/GIS system? Would you have time to talk? What would be the best way to reach you? Travis Meeks Assistant Manager Fire Protection Harris County Fire Code 10555 Northwest Freeway ste. #100 Houston Texas, 77092 713 316 3536 "Practice fire safety, the life saved may be your own" From: Larry Baltz To: Juna Goda Papajorgji , Timothy Clark Subject: Permit Tracker Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 15:24:44 +0200 Hi Juna and Tim, I came across your presentation summary on the GOSCON'08 website and I'm impressed with the work you've done. I'm working on a USAID program in Albania and one o f the components is planning to provide a construction permit tracking tool for the municipalities of the country. We are in the early stages of defining the requirements and stakeholders. I've be interested in the current state of your project and whethe r the code for the project is open source. I understand that most (if not all) of the tools were open source, but was the application you created open source? In any case, I'd be interested in learning more about the project with the goal of either using it directly in the Albanian context or using it as a model for creating a permit tracking tool here. Thanks in advance for any information you can provide, Larry Baltz IT Integration Team Leader MCC Albania Threshold Program II Tel:++355 4 23 80 418

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223 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Juna God a Papajorgji is an Albanian national, a naturalized citizen of Canada, and a permanent resident of the United States. She was raised bilingual (Albanian, and Italian) in an academic family and is formally educ ated in English and French She holds a Master of Science in Urban/Civil engineering from the University of Tirana, Albania (1981), and a Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida (1997). She took the required PHD courses (while working) during 2001 2003, and complet ed the other requirements (while working) during 2011 2012. Before moving to the United States, she led the establishment of the Civil Engineering Department, at the Center for Scientific Information and Documentation in the National Academy of Sciences in Albania. She worked in UNESCO programs and of the Albanian National Public Radio. In the United States, she led the establishment of a multiple award winning, geo enabl ed integrated growth management information system for Alachua County, Florida based on Open Source, Open Technologies, and Web 2.0 elements. Concurrently, as its founding co chair, she also led the establishment of the GISCorps an international progra m that provides volunteer GIS services to underserved communities worldwide. At the University of Florida, she is currently an Adjunct Faculty in the department of Urban and Regional Planning, where she has attracted several grant awards, a nd has conducted research of local, state, and national scale, at the GeoPlan Center, and at the Family Data Center.

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224 She has spearheaded GIS teaching and GIS implementations (on site, and remotely), in Armenia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Ke nya, Mali, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Afghanistan, India, and Albania. She is the recipient of several national and international awards and recognitions, has prolifically published and presented (frequently by invitation, or as a guest speaker) in numero us conferences, and events, both nationally and internationally. She is a member of the Small Grants review joint panel between the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) association, and is a former jur y member of the Interne tional Pirelli Award, Rome, Italy. Currently, the Vice Chair of the Societal Impacts Committee of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) association, responsible for the Developing Nations Fund, she is also a former member of the Board of Directors of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), and of the Florida Chapter of URISA. She delights in philosophical and social justice reading s, in travels to remote and a uthentic places, and as of late, in cultiv ating her own garden She marvels in the art of knitting and adorns her domicile s with self made things from abandoned scraps, and hand embroidery.