“Smart City” Supports Interactive Services
In the heart of Orange County, CA, the City of Irvine is one of the nation’s largest planned urban communities, encompassing more than 65 square miles. The employees of the City of Irvine envision the city as the ultimate “Smart City” with a vibrant community where residents and businesses alike easily obtain information.
For Irvine management, the key to successful interaction between city services, businesses, and residents is to enable the community to receive and provide information through a variety of interactive services. The city organization is well known among its citizens for the efficient strategies it employs even as the city has experienced tremendous growth throughout the past 35 years.
During the last five years alone, the city’s population has increased 28 percent, park acres have increased 27 percent, street landscape acres increased 29 percent, facilities increased by 8 percent, and street lane miles have increased by 29 percent.
As the city evolves, and despite more constrained revenue, city staff remain vigilant in the assessment of policies, services standards, the allocation of resources, and funding needs for ongoing issues, such as communications technology, infrastructure development, and rehabilitation.
This vigilance is exemplified in Irvine’s commitment to quality service and cost management strategies. During the last five years, the City of Irvine has lowered the per-capita costs of providing services, while at the same time, maintaining high standards of service delivery. The city’s resident population has increased 28 percent, while per capita expenditures (adjusted for inflation) have decreased 14 percent during the same period.
Growth for Irvine is inevitable, and parallel to the city’s commitment to employing the most effective technology systems that help maintain and even improve service efficiencies. City staff, which now includes 1,170 employees throughout city hall and 19 off-site facilities, has continually sought after technology that would meet the information servicing needs of each department and the citizens they serve.
Then, in 2000, the Irvine City Council, with support from city managers, identified the need for a citywide system that would integrate all city records, documents, forms, and meeting agenda processes into one complete, easily accessed, interactive system. It was determined that the core of this “Smart City” system needed to have a comprehensive Electronic Document Management System (EDMS), as well as workflow and agenda process technology.
“We wanted a comprehensive solution that would be the foundation for all records and information management,” said Jill Schoener, Irvine’s Municipal Records Administrator. “We also required the ability to integrate systems collectively and ultimately have a complete data management system. This system also needed to be easily accessible and customized to meet the needs of our internal staff and our citizens.”
“Smart City” Vision Impairments
Through a Strategic Technology Plan, this citywide records and information system is the responsibility of the City Clerk’s Department Office of Records and Information. This department was key to the design and implementation of the Irvine Records and Information System (IRIS) and Irvine Quick Records, a Web interface for 24/7 access by the public and city personnel to city business records.
“Overall, our goal was to find an innovative way to provide customers quick and convenient access to public records” said Sean Joyce, City of Irvine Manager. “However, knowing that our Office of Records and Information manages more than 10 million records by scanning, importing, and fulfilling citywide requests for public information and subpoenas, 24/7 access to IRIS was a daunting task.”
Delivering this access, combined with additional priorities of integrating numerous legacy systems, retention compliance, management of hardcopy and electronic records, including 7 million microfiche records, and the conversion of imaging systems, initially made the “Smart City” vision a great undertaking.
As part of Irvine’s goal of providing access to public information, the City Clerk’s Department is responsible for maintaining all city citywide records. An EDMS at the foundation of IRIS would expedite the archival and retrieval processes of records, but a significant problem the city faced was that multiple departments, in 20 different locations were using a variety of databases and applications, some of which were not communicating with each other.
The City Clerk’s Department is also responsible for ensuring that legislative body meetings are conducted in an open forum. Irvine’s agenda item assembly and approval workflow process was not as electronically automated as the clerk’s office needed in order to manage the process in a timely and cost-effective manner. In addition, agendas, supporting staff reports, and minutes of all proceedings were not being posted on the city’s Web site quickly enough and review by the public was not as user friendly as city staff wanted it to be.
“It is imperative to maintain a high level of public satisfaction and consistent customer service,” said Schoener. “Additionally, with the ever-increasing potential of city liability as a result of lawsuits, it is vital to ensure that public records are managed accurately and with the highest level of integrity”
Better Vision and Outcomes
Through an RFP process, the City of Irvine selected Salt Lake City-based SIRE Technologies to provide a citywide EDMS and SIRE’s AgendaPlus for Irvine’s electronic creation and automated assembly of the city council meeting agendas.
Over 3 million images have been put in SIRE’s FileCenter system, an EDMS that enables municipal records staff to scan, index, and retrieve electronic documents more efficiently. This includes more than 500,000 city clerk documents (minutes, ordinances, resolutions, contracts, and agendas), as well as over 800,000 building plans and permits. One example of the return Irvine is realizing by implementing the FileCenter. The (EDMS) system saves close to $100,000 in paper costs annually.
The EDMS integrates with a number of legacy systems, as well as smoothing the sometimes rough process of transitioning from antiquated or duplicate systems. Now, all Irvine document management and record applications communicate or have been incorporated into one system and can be accessed through IRIS. All 20 Irvine City staff locations are on one system.
City employees scan and index records so they can be easily accessed and viewed by the public and staff. For example, the city processes approximately 900,000 images containing vital historical information on an annual basis. Productivity costs have decreased with the amount of information available for public access 24/7. On an average, IRIS receives over 1,600 internal hits and 18,000 external hits to access records and information, decreasing internal labor costs spent identifying and producing records. By making these records available to the public online, Irvine is meeting the needs of its citizens and making their city government work for them.
Significant outcomes have also occurred though Irvine’s implementation of SIRE AgendaPlus. Along with managing meeting agendas, the system incorporates all supporting staff reports and documents, while providing workflow and approvals online and then automatically routing to individual users so that the meeting is assembled in the correct order. The agenda and associated documentation are automatically filed in the City Clerk’s permanent electronic file cabinets within IRIS.
Irvine saves both time and money by archiving all the details of important meetings so they are instantaneously available for immediate action by all parties. Instant access to information reduces the workload of the City Clerk’s Department to fulfill requests from the public, who can now view and download meeting minutes and agendas via the Web. From preparing the agenda, to obtaining approval for documents, to taking minutes, the staff is able to do their work much faster and easier than ever before.
SIRE partnered with Granicus, which now enables Irvine to stream video broadcasts of their meetings to its IRIS. AgendaPlus capabilities will also soon provide interactive, real time recording of council votes directly to a rollup of the meetings minutes on IRIS.
For more information on SIRE Technologies, Click Here.