Located in southwest Riverside
County, in a lush valley just 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the city of
Temecula is one of Southern California�s most beautiful new communities.
The City is relatively new, having been incorporated in 1989, but has been
growing at a rapid pace since its inception; the population of Temecula
has increased over 60 percent in the last 13 years.
From the beginning, the City has
been a leader in implementing effective e-government solutions to manage
our rapid growth. Soon after Temecula was incorporated, we turned to an
online solution to manage our permitting activities. The City has used an
online approach to automate and track our land management activities for
more than 10 years.
While the online solution automated and managed all of the permitting
tasks for Temecula, there was room for improvement. Specifically, the City
turned its focus to the inspection process.
council members were receiving calls from citizens who were frustrated
with the length of time for completing inspections. City staff was
challenged with responding to these calls in a timely fashion because
there was often a lag time between inspections being scheduled and the
results being entered into the database. The City needed a way to
streamline the process and make results available sooner.
staff began looking at possible solutions, we became more interested in
implementing wireless technology. With the proliferation of new mobile
devices like Pocket PCs and Tablet PCs, mobile workforces were becoming
increasingly productive in the field and City staff saw a way to apply
this success to our jurisdiction.
strongly that utilizing wireless technology would improve efficiency for
our inspectors,� according to Steve Brown, Code Enforcement Manager. �If inspectors were equipped with
proper technology in the field, they could minimize their travel time to
and from the home office and process more inspections per day.�
City staff was excited about implementing this new solution, inspectors
were more reluctant. They had become accustomed to processing their
inspections a certain way and were concerned that the new system would
create additional work.
there was some hesitation on the part of the inspectors, we were confident
that a wireless solution would be the right step in improving our ability
to deliver efficient government services to citizens. Additionally, because the City was
continuing to grow and had sufficient resources, we felt that this was an
opportune time to implement new e-government initiatives.
MINIMIZE TRAVEL TIME
The City�s fire inspectors are
responsible for completing between three and seven inspections per day,
each lasting one hour on average. With multiple inspections scattered
throughout the City, minimizing travel time was a key issue. Inspectors
would spend most of the day traveling to various inspection sites,
manually completing the inspections forms. These forms were then returned
to the home office and administrative staff would input the results into
the permit system. This process often resulted in a delay between when an
inspection was performed and when it was updated in the system.
The City wanted a wireless solution that
would allow inspectors to signoff and approve inspections from the field.
This capability would not only speed up the overall process but the data
entry step would be eliminated, meaning greater accuracy and fewer errors
CREATE INSPECTIONS IN THE FIELD
Inspectors in the Code Enforcement Department wanted the same mobile
capabilities as the Fire Department, but faced some unique challenges in
their job. While out in the field responding to reported code violations,
these inspectors often came across additional violations that had yet to
be reported -- abandoned vehicles, illegal signage or lack of landscape
maintenance for example. These violations needed to be entered as new
cases but inspectors needed a way to view current parcel data or code
violation history when creating the new cases. A wireless solution would
allow immediate, remote access to the city database, providing code
enforcement inspectors a complete view of the case and allowing them to be
more proactive in responding to the community�s complaints.
of Temecula looked to Accela, a company that develops enterprise software solutions
for local and state government, including Web-based, wireless and GIS
Accela Wireless, an application that works with a city�s existing land
management database to provide wireless access capabilities, inspectors
can transfer many of their daily tasks from the office to the field.
The project began with City�s
Fire Department. Fire inspectors were equipped with Tablet PCs running
Accela Wireless. Using the program, inspectors could view their daily
inspection schedules, access relevant property data, and sign off on
completed inspections. Updates were made to the database in real time so
there was no need to return to the office at the end of the day.
ability to leverage mobile technology allows us to do more with our
existing resources,� said Jim McBride, Fire Marshal for the City of
Temecula. �Our full-time inspectors can do more in the same amount of
time and the department is relying less on bringing in alternate
inspectors. The end result is better, faster service for our citizens.�
wireless approach also provides its mobile workforce with:
and Off-line Mode: This feature is useful if inspectors are
working in areas that have limited wireless communication or none at all.
Any updates are stored in the mobile device and uploaded to the main
database when a connection is reestablished or when the inspector returns
to the office.
Inspection Creation: This
feature allows Code Enforcement inspectors in the field to create new
cases as they encounter violations. The agency database can be accessed
remotely to view current and historical data about the location, allowing
inspectors to create complete and up-to-date cases. The information is
automatically updated to the main database so if the home office receives
a call about the violation, they can provide the complainant with the most
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everyone in Temecula has benefited from its wireless approach. Inspectors are happy with the new system
because it is allowing them to work more efficiently. City staff and
Temecula citizens are seeing results in the first few months since
implementing wireless inspections. These
results are particularly noticeable when processing calls between citizens
and city council members, where real time access to data provides greater
situational awareness and allows staff to be more proactive in responding
The success of the Fire and Code
Enforcement Departments has helped convince other departments in the City
that wireless is the way to go. In developing the City budget for next
year, both the Building Department and Public Works will be reviewing the
results to determine how their departments will implement wireless
Thorson is the Director of Information Systems for the City of Temecula,
California. Temecula is
located in Riverside County and is one of Southern
California's favorite communities in which to enjoy both personal and
corporate quality of life. For more
information about Temecula, visit www.cityoftemecula.org.
Accela develops enterprise software
solutions for local and state government, including Web-based, wireless,
and GIS applications. For more
information, please visit www.accela.com.