For decades, cities have been doing inspections using paper forms along with a pen, paper, and camera. Based on discussions with municipalities across North America, there are several problems that all city departments seem to face, no matter their location or size.

Paper inspections require data entry. Most cities we talk to have duplication of labour, with one person completing the inspections and another staff member typing the data into spreadsheets, reports, or work flow systems. This is inefficient – staff time could be better put to use on other tasks, like the growing list of preventive maintenance needs.

Paper inspections are inconsistent. There are many ways an inspector can describe a problem or a fault – graffiti on the side of a civic building could be written down with words like “spray paint”, “vandalism”, or “graffiti”. CityReporter allows inspection forms to be customized with drop-down menus so all similar problems are described the same way, providing valuable statistical data to city management.

Paper inspections can be illegible. The quality of information gleaned from a paper inspection is heavily reliant on the legibility of the inspector’s handwriting. Unfortunately, inclement weather can cause ink to run and writing on a clipboard can result in chicken-scratch. It’s easy for errors to accumulate when transcribing documents that have been exposed to the weather.

Paper inspections can be lost. The forms used in municipal inspections can move around a lot: from the inspector to the data entry clerk, repair crew, manager’s desk, or filing cabinet. Unfortunately, these inspections also provide the legal documentation in case of public injury. We’ve learned from a municipal insurance association that too often, cities lose liability claims due to insufficient evidence.

Paper inspections are inefficient. Imagine hand-writing a letter to a friend and then getting another person to type it up for you before mailing it via the postal system. It’s a lovely tradition when it comes to holiday greetings, but impractical in the workplace when email is available.

That’s the difference between using traditional paper inspections and a powerful inspection solution like CityReporter – the increase in efficiency nets substantial savings in staff time, data entry wages, and legal difficulties for municipalities across North America.