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Internet, iPhones Among Technology Upgrades at Bureau of Building Inspection

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Tuesday took a tour 200 Ross St., which houses, among other offices, the Bureau of Building Inspection and Department of City Planning.

BBI Chief Maura Kennedy said they were showing off the long-awaited implementation of a decades-old technology: as of this month, every employee in the building finally has Internet access.

“Previously the building was not wired for the Internet, in large part,” Kennedy said. “So now people are actually using the laptops we purchased several years ago to do real-time data entry.”

Not all of the recent technology upgrades at BBI are such glaringly late arrivals.

“We’ve given all of the inspectors iPhones, which allows them to be contacted by telephone and e-mail throughout the day,” Kennedy said. “Previously they were only available to customers for a very brief window in the morning, so this has actually greatly increased our customer service.”

With some of the most basic technology needs of BBI now met, Kennedy said she’s looking forward to making the bureau’s licensing, permitting and inspection data publicly available online.  

“We really touch businesses, developers, and citizens in a very meaningful way, so we want to expose our licensing data, expose our permitting data, so people can see what activity is happening here in Pittsburgh,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said people will soon be able to apply for permits online without having to come down to the bureau in person, and that they hope to soon begin accepting credit cards and other forms of electronic payment.

She said the changes at BBI help to fulfill Mayor Peduto’s campaign promise to bring city government into the 21st century, adding that increasing efficiency through technology has been a major focus since she joined the bureau in early 2014.