By Regulatory Reform Team • February 18, 2015

Cities should structure monitoring and inspection around predictive analytics in order to address high risk concerns before they become problems, while fast-tracking good actors.

  • What data does the city have stored that could be integrated to provide a comprehensive picture of who usually complies, and who is most likely to err?

  • Is this data stored in mutually intelligible formats?
  • What personnel integration is necessary to complement data integration, so that the picture of compliance can best be interpreted for action? How are inspectors deployed and what tools do they have to ensure the inspections are fair, consistent, and accessible to other relevant agencies?
  • How much discretion are inspectors allowed?

To ensure structured monitoring and compliance, cities should adopt the following best practices:

PRINCIPLE 1

Track compliance and non-compliance based on location and industry type - provide fast-track options for those businesses that are consistently compliant and preventative inspections for those most likely to be non-compliant

Cities should understand trends in compliance across neighborhoods and business types over time. Identifying trends and reallocating inspectional services will reduce non-compliance and provide relief to the good actors within the business and civic community.

Value Proposition & Potential Barriers

  • Value Proposition

Tracking good and bad actors will allow city government to achieve the greatest results possible through targeting resources. This effort will increase compliance, reduce costs, and ease inspectional burdens on compliant businesses and residents.

  • Potential Barriers

Resistance to systematic change; lack of supervisory discretion; difficulty in aggregating the relevant data.

Best Practice Examples in Local Government

  • Boston, MA

In Boston, Mayor Menino introduced the Problem Properties Task Force. This task force identifies the worst actors in regards to noise complaints, hosting criminal activity, and poor sanitary conditions and directs remediation. This Task Force included the heads of the Police, Fire, Public Health, and Air Pollution Control departments as well as a liaison from the Mayor’s office and the city’s legal counsel.

PRINCIPLE 2

Leverage technology to streamline monitoring and inspection

Handheld technology and cloud-computing allow inspectors to have discretion without the risk of excessive subjectivity and unfairness. Every inspector can have access to a standard checklist for compliance that feeds into, and draws on, a general data-set on that business’s interaction with the municipality. This inspector therefore has context for his inspection as well as the potential to address other issues with the firm. Furthermore, the use of cloud-computing acts as a monitor of the inspectors themselves: data on their inspection history can be culled to identify those who are consistently too lax or too tough.

Value Proposition & Potential Barriers

  • Value Proposition

Adopting technology will increase efficiency for inspectors, city agencies, small businesses and residents. Supervisors can assign assignments to inspectors based on geographic location; inspectors can download files in transit and use tablets to upload inspection results in real time to shared databases; and city agencies can access inspection results and issue updated permits or licenses. Small businesses can be notified automatically of scheduled inspections and receive inspection reports based on information the inspectors into the tablet. Fines and fees can be paid online based on inspection reports, or via inspector tablets.

  • Potential Barriers

Resistance to systematic change; budgetary constraints; and lack of technological skills and knowledge.

Best Practice Examples in Local Government

  • Baltimore, MD

In Baltimore, the Bureau of Environmental Health was awarded an innovation fund loan to shift its more than 11,500 annual inspections of food facilities, daycares, schools, and the like to a portable tablet platform to allow for inspections to be recorded in the field.