Mobile apps for smart-phones, an online database for rentals at city facilities and a streamlined communication process for firefighters are among the changes Coquitlam staff are making this year to eliminate red tape.
Council was briefed Monday on the status of a process that's now three years in the making, as managers from a variety of departments look to improve work processes, eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic backlogs, and focus on customer service.
"This is not just talking about our front-line customer service staff. This is talking about everybody across the organization," said Michelle Hunt, the city's manager of corporate planning. "Customer service is everybody."
The city's Committee on Business Improvements and Outdated Rules was established in 2010 and has received 250 suggestions for change since its inception.
Of those recommendations, 72 items have been resolved, including 23 items last year: the implementation of the intermunicipal business licence system, a move to publish online status reports regarding development applications and building permits, online vendor invoicing and changes around facility use licences.
"It's looking at using technology as best as we can, it's looking at being innovative, it's getting rid of those outdated rules, it's looking at our processes," Hunt said.
The 2013 work plan contains 44 items, including a move to substantially change the way firefighters receive all sorts of information, from work schedules and locations to payroll and holiday times.
The city is in the process of moving what's referred to as a duty roster to a strictly online model. The duty roster lets firefighters know which station they will be working out of and the assignments they could be working on in advance.
The same online database can also be used for other purposes, such as recording holiday times, long-term service leaves, payroll systems and other needs around record keeping.
Previously, the system was done via "paper, pen and fax," according to fire chief Tony Delmonico.
"This has been one of our top priorities," he said Thursday. "We've been looking at moving to electronic systems for probably 10 years here in Coquitlam."
Delmonico said the new online model is being rolled out incrementally over time.
Future changes include a new system to allow staff to call for additional resources during major fires. The system will be so specific it will pick and choose various pieces of equipment needed for jobs, while also calling on firefighters with specific skill sets located closest to the job.
"The efficiency side is unbelievable - going electronic is the only way to go," Delmonico said. "It's so much more efficient, saves our people so much time, and gives them that much more knowledge."