The Prince William County Department of Development Service’s Building Safety Month campaign, “Prevent, Prepare, Protect. Building Codes Save,” will be held virtually this year, raising awareness about the importance of building codes in ensuring safety in the spaces in which we live, work, and play.
As we prepare ourselves for the increased severity and frequency of natural disasters, building safety is even more critical. Disaster mitigation through the adoption and enforcement of building codes is one of the best ways for communities to prepare and protect against future disasters. Homes and buildings built in compliance with building safety codes and the officials who enforce the regulations are essential to helping communities minimize the risks of death, injury, and property damage in the event of a disaster.
This first week we discuss innovation. How is Prince William County using innovation as it conducts business? “2020 certainly brought new challenges, and as such, innovation was a necessary part of adapting. “Building Development Division used interactive inspections and video walkthroughs to help keep building inspections moving forward. Covid-19 left us all unsure & vulnerable, but with vulnerability comes creativity, innovation & change,” shared Eric Mays, County Building Official.
Another innovation, the ePortal, a one-stop-shop for homeowners and contractors, was being worked on before the pandemic but was fast-tracked during Covid-19, as was ePlan review, which helps to streamline the submittal process. These business processes and technology improvements were critical during 2020. Allowing the customer to do as much as possible and making the experience smoother leads to a better customer experience.
Eric Mays believes in the Kaizen strategy of continuous improvement. Kaizen, a Japanese term that means “change for the better,” is a philosophy that implements small, incremental changes that lead to an overall improvement in user experience and production. “Refuse to be involved in change that is not sustainable,” says Mays. “When creating a process, don’t just make it better; make it sustainable.” The Power of ePortal is not only that it is sustainable but can be built on. (no pun intended) The vision, according to Mays is to create a “virtual customer service counter” where all processes would be tied together. With 24/7 access, there would be no waiting in line, and all parts of the process would be accessible virtually.
Continuous review of the customer service experience and implementing innovation are just a few ways that Prince William County helps its residents and businesses through the necessary building codes that protect our community.