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Interactive Website Maps And Tracks City Building Permits In Real Time

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Residents, developers and businesses curious about building permits they’ve submitted or the status of construction in their neighborhood can now access information directly from their phones or computers.

City officials announced Monday the rollout of the interactive mapping site, “buildingeye.” The online tool allows users to search for permit information by address, zone, ward, district or zip code. City Permit, Licenses and Inspections Director Maura Kennedy said currently her department receives hundreds of calls daily and the site will help improve efficiency.

“We can now focus on processing more permits and licenses,” Kennedy said. “We want to be very transparent to the public in terms of how we’re progressing, what the next step is and how they can use that information.”

The website includes four “modules,” as Kennedy described them: building, planning, enforcement and licensing. By clicking the modules, blue and green dots, representing permits, appear on an interactive map of the city. A sidebar reveals the details of the permit, including application number, type, status and history.

Mayor Bill Peduto said when he first took office in 2014, PLI employees didn’t have email or cell phones and the department hadn’t been upgraded in decades. The implementation of buildingeye, he said, is more than just another way to digitize a city procedure.

“This opens the process to everybody, allowing you to understand what’s happening in your neighborhood, allowing you to understand what’s happening in your city,” Peduto said. “We’ve changed a system that’s been the same way for 80 years and we have taken the next great step of creating government that we want to see: one that’s open, transparent and utilizes technology to empower its people.”

Councilman Dan Gilman said buildingeye was chosen last year after a “Request for Proposals,” but that he originally heard about the company during the National League of Cities Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Credit City of Pittsburgh
City of Pittsburgh
A screenshot of the buildingeye website layout as it applies to the city of Pittsburgh. Blue and green dots represent building permits.

“What we’re doing today is really blowing the lid off zoning and PLI and opening up their files to the world,” Gilman said.

All of the building permits included on the buildingeye website were applied for on or after Jan. 1, 2013 and the database is updated each night. Kennedy said the site is linked to the city’s 311 response center, so violations and other issues can be directly reviewed by officials.

The service costs $61,000 per yearly subscription, with $15,000 coming from the City Planning budget and $51,000 from the PLI Department. 

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm