Author Archives: April

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City of New London

Successfully streamlining business practices – One city’s story.

Category:Success Story Tags : 

New London Connecticut is a city, set in a beautiful coastal backdrop. They are steeped in history, dating back to 1646. And they are making big strides in their business practices.

Felix Reyes, Director of Economic Development and Planning, was looking to streamline the citywide office business processes. He wanted to eliminate the archaic paper-based business practices. As well as improve communication between departments. Furthermore, improving the service they were providing the public. And he was looking for the right technology to help him do that.

Vernon Skau, Fire Marshal for the City of New London, had been using Codepal since 2006. “We purchased Codepal to efficiently complete inspections. Over the years this has transformed into a data collection system. Tracking all activities taking place at a property.”

Vernon works closely with New London Building Official, Kirk Kripas. They have mutual respect and good communication between their departments. Kirk and Vernon were talking about improvements to their process and how to remove any bottleneck procedures. Notably, an excel spreadsheet that was emailed back and forth with permit approvals. The process was inefficient and created a bottleneck.

Codepal was discussed and soon placed in the building department budget. Fast forward three years and the purchase was still waiting on budget approval.

Purchasing a solution

When Felix was hired in March 2018, he began formulating a plan to tackle issues they were facing. “Our Fire Marshal uses Codepal and loves it. Vernon highly recommended it” says, Felix. The budget was passed and Codepal was purchased in 2018. “I was most interested in improving the interface between our building department and zoning.” As a result, the purchase was for the two additional departments.

Changes are not always bad

“The biggest change I’ve seen is the communication lines have been opened between the departments. Good and bad, but there is no more silence. They are communicating and I hope this continues to get easier and smoother over time.” says Felix.

Vernon noted “Since Kirk came on board, I can now see all building related permits and inspections. In the middle of the night, when I receive an emergency call, I can learn about the property instantly- permits and inspections all available for me to see. This is a time saver. Now we share a unified database.”

Kirk agreed with “the efficiency of how tasks are handled and researching permits is speedy and clear.”

This isn’t to say there were no speed bumps. “The staff wasn’t sure of themselves after training. But over time, knowledge has improved and has aided in the unsteady feeling from staff” notes Felix. “Codepal was always accessible and that was important to us. They were always available for a phone call anytime.”

Kirk agreed, “They have been very responsive. Issues are resolved quickly. It is nice to pick up the phone and talk to someone instantly. The customer service has been incredible.” This is a key component to their success. Uncomfortable staff had the support needed to embrace the change and gain comfort in their knowledge.

On the positive side, Vernon says the service has never changed, “It has been impeccable from day one, all the way back to 2006. Sometimes I feel like their only customer with how responsive they’ve been.”

Advice for other cities looking to make this type of change.

Streamlining business practices from paper records to electronic processing can boost your city’s performance and profitability. It is a turning point for many cities.

Felix’s has some advice for those looking to make the change. “Be prepared to help your staff push through any growing pains. Put your house in order first, your processes must be in place before expecting software to fix it. You have to be in it to win it and have the mentality to commit and stick with it.”

Click here for more information about our City Wide Solutions.

City of New London, Connecticut website

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Old Binder with printed preplans

Delivering Preplans Quickly and Efficiently

Category:Trends Tags : 

How are you delivering your preplans? Many fire departments are moving from those cumbersome binders to digital preplans and the advantages are huge.

Access: Time is crucial in an emergency and every second matters.

Binder preplans can leave responders a step behind in emergency situations and many times there’s only one set of plans. In a live emergency, MULTIPLE responders dispatch from MULTIPLE locations and even from MULTIPLE departments and/or jurisdictions. EVERY responder needs to access the preplan. However, this is difficult with an outdated paper binder.

In contrast, prevention software that incorporates preplans solves this problem. Responders can easily search an address or link directly from their CAD systems. Easily pull up emergency contacts, hydrant information, shutoffs, building photos, roof structure, exits, and hazardous materials that may be inside the building. With this in mind, leaders can confidently plan the right strategy with all the information they need to save lives and keep the responders safe. 

Preplan Viewer on a tablet

Updates: Is your information up to date? Good question.

Occupancy data is always in flux and bad information puts responders in a dangerous situation. Is the hazmat accurate? What about the occupant? Emergency contacts, changes in occupancy, and renovations? With electronically stored preplans updates are simple and fast. For instance, property details can be updated while any user is on site for any variety of reason. Data is dynamic and available to everyone. No need to print and store in the binders.

Keeping preplans up to date is a daunting task. Who’s responsible? The companies, the prevention department, both? However, giving access to more staff in a web environment makes this task becomes much less daunting by allowing companies and prevention to work together easily. 

ISO: Storing and delivering preplans electronically may increase your ISO rating! 

With our new preplan viewer and updater our customers are able to access preplan data in seconds.

  • Sync to CAD– Encrypted auto login directly from most CAD software
  • Device independence (phone, tablet, pc)
  • Secure login to edit occupancy data easily
  • Unlimited Users

Let us help you get your preplans into the hands of your responders.

For more information about Codepal – click here.

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Rescue Drone

Drone Use in Emergency Management Services

Category:Trends Tags : 

Technology has come a long way in arming first responders with the tools to combat any situation. UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or better known as drones) are proof of that. With the ability to capture key footage (video or photo) easily without the use of more expensive equipment (i.e. helicopter and pilot) from any angle, drone use is widely utilized in emergency management agencies.  

Drone Search and Rescue

Search and rescue efforts can be expedited through the efforts of a drone, gaining vision from an aerial view of the search area. Scan areas faster and get to areas that are unsafe for personnel. Some drones even can carry items, such as emergency kits, medication, first aid kits, and two-way radios. Drones can act as communication platforms delivering wi-fi and cell service. Drones can be outfitted with infrared cameras or night vision to aid in quickly finding a subject. 

Drone Scene Documentation

Drones can digitally document damage created naturally or criminally which can be utilized for future disaster training or court testimony. They can serve as monitors for crowd control during large group gatherings. After a mass disaster, they can cover more area faster than multiple patrol personnel. UAV’s have the ability to monitor a larger area faster and have the ability to record its findings. 

Drone Inspections

Drones are faster and cheaper than conventional inspection techniques in a variety of fields. We’re not saying every situation can or should be inspected by technology and not an experienced human inspector. What we’re suggesting is it could save you and your team time, money, and save lives. UAV’s can: Search and scan abandoned buildings for safety and security concerns; Document structure changes over time; Inspect and possibly repair leaks to gas mains; Inspect structures that otherwise would require scaffolding or lift equipment easier and quicker. 

Damage and Risk Assessment

Use a drone to gain visibility during a fire, verify structure stability, access points and more. Drones are used for assessment of building damage after a collapse, when it is unsafe for personnel. Once the scene is controlled, use the drone to record damage. Utilize footage for ease of completing damage reports. FEMA approved. [source: FEMA]. 

Aerial Mapping/Data gathering

Utilize a drone to gather data for property planning and mapping. Drones can digitally map areas of land with high-resolution cameras. Utilize the maps for planning layouts, field and crop data gathering, plan reviews and land assessment. As drone technology improves, the use of these drones will also increase. The technology already exists to program drones before the flight. Lock on a subject and the drone will hover and follow, documenting their moves. This opens the door for documenting training simulations. These types of documentation are priceless. However, the cost of the drone is still a concern. 

The cost

The average cost of a drone is $499 [source: MyFirstDrone], with the (rare) most expensive drone topping the scale at $250,000. [source: Dronesbuy] Depending on your needs, the cost range is obviously wide. However, when you compare it to the costs of operating a standard helicopter at $1600 per hour, or Coast Guard patrol boat at $1147 per hour, the cost of owning and operating a drone is considerably less. [source: Sharples] Between 1992 to 2007, on average, there were 11.2 SAR (Search and Rescue) incidents each day at the cost of $895 per operation. [source: PubMed] I think we’ll see these costs decrease, as drone pilots are added to the emergency force,

Resources exist to assist you in purchasing, training, and software to aid in the use of the technology as well as private contractors that you can hire. Drones are here to stay; the only question is how will their use continue to assist first responders? As the use of Drone technology increase, you can rest assured, Codepal is following. We already have the ability to document planning, procedures, assessments and delivery data. As technology needs change, so can we. 

Tell us how you’re using Drones to assist in your field of expertise.