Becoming Paperless Overnight

Somerville is located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts just two miles north of Boston. Occupying slightly over 4 square miles, its population of 75,754 makes Somerville the most densely populated community in New England.  Hired in 2013, Inspectional Services Superintendent Goran Smiljic was charged with modernizing the Somerville Building and Health Divisions.  With more than 4000 permits and 1500 licenses issued annually the department functioned entirely with manual and paper systems.  Inspections were tracked on index cards, plans were stored in various locations in the office.


All permit and license applications were setup on citizenserve to be submitted electronically. Multiple kiosks were located throughout the Inspection Services offices to allow online applications to be submitted electronically.  All paper applications were removed from the front counter and from the Cities website accepting electronic applications only.



Training and transition a workforce of more than 30 inspectors, reviewers and administrative staff from a purely manual system to a completely automated system was huge undertaking.  The staff had to learn how to use computers, tablets and an entirely new way of conducting business.



Two years since going live all applications are now received electronically, inspection reports are generated electronically, renewal notices, everything is electronic, plans are submitted electronically.  In 2015 the department issued over 6800 permits and completed more than 18,000 inspections all without the burden of paper files and manual processes.