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Paperless and digital goals help with COVID-19

Goals PDS established in 2017 and 2019—and on which its staff worked diligently since then—prepared the agency for its current COVID-19 office closure. Those goals were to transition to a paperless office and to go digital for receipt of all permits, subdivision plats and plans, development plans, and building plans.

“I don’t know how we’d have functioned during this closure if we hadn’t taken the steps we took,” said Dennis Gordon, FAICP, executive director. “As it is now, our responsibilities are pretty much covered fully from 40+ remote locations around the metro area.” View locations map

Gordon suggests the ability of staff to be available for walk-ins and impromptu meetings suffers with the Kenton County Government Center being closed but “people are learning they just need to call for an appointment and that’s going well.”

The organization’s 2017 goal to go paperless was driven by two facts: PDS was beginning to face storage challenges for records that must be retained according to statute; and, technology was presenting options that made storage of huge amounts of data more accessible and less expensive than storing hard copies.

The 2019 goal to go digital was largely a product of customer demand. Developers and builders were submitting their plans digitally in increasing numbers. When the subject of submitting plans online was raised, members of the Building Industries of Northern Kentucky responded loudly with the question, “How soon can that be one?”

Gordon says the decision to move PDS’ offices to the new Kenton County Government Center provided the last piece to the puzzle: a deadline by which to complete the two transition goals. Staff is working now to reduce all of PDS’ old records to scans that can be stored digitally.

“We had very specific benefits in mind when we began working toward these goals,” said Gordon.  “They were all about efficiency and cost savings. For staff, that meant being able to access records quickly. For customers, that meant not having to drive to PDS’ offices to submit projects and receiving staff review comments digitally. In other words, a win-win result.”

Being able to work seamlessly and without delay from multiple metro locations is the icing on the cake, he says.