Andy Pitman (Alpharetta, GA) —
Last year, Charlotte, North Carolina was presented with an enormous opportunity — and challenge — hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The event would bring more than 35,000 attendees, including media, delegates, and other guests to the city to officially nominate the next Democratic presidential candidate. As one can imagine, putting on an event for tens of thousands of people requires a great deal of planning and coordination. As the city of Charlotte prepared for the influx of activity, it needed an effective way to manage resources, public safety, and transportation, while at the same time, evaluate and process event requests from both citizens and organizations participating in convention activities.
Media set-up on the Democratic National Convention floor in Charlotte the weekend prior to the event. Photo from PBS NewsHour, via Creative Commons. (Cover photo from same photo set.)
Charlotte had previously used manual processes to handle requests for event permits, but knew it needed a software-based solution to scale up to a large spike in permit requests. The city decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and the Microsoft Event Permitting Solution to automate the application process and back-end approval workflows. Rather than forcing citizens to fill out multiple paper forms and requiring government agencies to coordinate approvals manually, the software brought the entire process online. With the new system, citizens were able to submit and track forms electronically, and agencies could collaborate on processing requests through Web-based workgroups. It also offered detailed reporting and let mobile government workers manage approvals while working in the field.
Charlotte continues to see benefits of its new system now that the convention is over. Today, employees now have access to a central database of all event-related information like permits for major regional events such as Food Lion Speed Street, Taste of Charlotte, and the CIAA Tournament. These events can draw as many as 200,000 people to the city each year, and now employees can reuse information for future events. In addition, staffers are empowered to find what they need without having to work through event coordinators, who previously managed the data on isolated local computers. Citizens have also enjoyed the benefits of the new permitting system since the convention, and can now apply for permits online since the system is integrated into the city’s website.
In the future, Charlotte plans to use Dynamics CRM to support other government services, such as code enforcement. If you’d like to learn more about the project, I encourage you to check out the full case study for more information.
Andy Pitman is part of Microsoft’s eGovernment solutions team. This post originally appeared on the Microsoft in Government blog.
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