Three Ways Permitting Systems Fail When It Comes to Special Events

Special events bring considerable revenue to a city — and considerable pain to City Hall. And while there are permitting systems on the market that think they can alleviate this pain, they’re failing City Hall and event producers in three major ways.

Let’s take a look at each of these shortcomings, and how our Special Events Portal fills these gaps — showing you exactly why cities like Cincinnati, Orlando, and Salt Lake City have partnered with OpenCounter for their special events permitting.

(No) Centralized Virtual Permitting Counter

Other traditional permitting options lack a centralized system that both the public and city departments can use to collaborate on special events with total transparency and accountability. The result? Departments have to get scrappy, which means tracking is often done manually in an Excel spreadsheet — or worse, by paper. Since extensive cross-department and event planner cooperation is critical for successful special event permitting, you can see the problem.

OpenCounter’s Special Events Portal, however, is a centralized virtual permitting counter built to meet everyone’s needs.

We translate all city requirements into a simple, cascading form that uses natural language and dynamic, conditional logic at every step. Event planners begin their permit discovery journey by selecting their event type from a predefined list, at which point they’re walked through a process that makes clear the available options and the applicable permits and fees.

On the back end, each department can clearly see any projects coming down the pike, as well as what is currently on their plate for review or approval, all while accounting for dependencies and contingencies along the way. The streamlined tracker lets everyone involved know exactly where the event stands, what’s needed, who needs to review and approve, and what steps are next. Dreamy, right?

(No) Robust Routing and Location Capabilities

Special events require a lot of space, especially large special events like music festivals and races. A single event may require multiple locations or routes that snake throughout the city. Moreover, choosing a route or location isn’t just a matter of availability, but of city regulation.

Put simply: It’s complicated. No existing permitting system of record — except ours — handles the selection of routes and locations for special events with such precise attention to zoning and restrictions.

OpenCounter expertly integrates sleek, intuitive mapping technology with city-specific regulations. Event planners can zoom, scroll, and plot as they consider suggested routes — or even draw their own.

(No) City-Wide Events Calendar

Scheduling is the Achilles’ heel of special events permitting — not simply due to the variable and expansive need of physical space, but due to coordinating the on-site city resources required for the event. Consider what’s needed for a marathon:

  • How much of a police department presence is required?
  • Will representatives from the health department be involved?
  • How about the fire department?
  • What city resources will be needed ahead of the event, and after it’s done?

It doesn’t take a wild imagination to see the propensity for event-altering wrenches here. And yet, surprisingly — or maybe not, at this point — there’s no city-wide events calendar on the market that both the public and city departments can access when reviewing special events permit requests.

That is — you guessed it — except OpenCounter’s.

The same conditional logic that allows planners to only select locations or routes that are both suitable and available also takes into account the availability of necessary city resources. Instead of tentatively selecting a date and waiting for City Hall to check with everyone involved to see if it works — with the ever-present risk that a different event or schedule conflict arises after the initial inquiry — planners and city departments are able to evaluate a single city-wide events calendar in real-time.

OpenCounter: Your Special Events Permitting Partner

The moral of the story: Where other digital permitting solutions fall short, we excel.

That’s why OpenCounter has become the virtual permitting counter for municipalities across the country — from Cincinnati to Miami and from Detroit to Fort Worth. Our suite of portals makes it easy for everyone to understand not just special events, but business and residential permitting too.

Plus, our products are backed by OpenCounter’s in-house team of public sector experts — people with deep knowledge of all things zoning, permitting, and licensing. We know how complex every single one of these processes is, the headaches and inefficiencies they’re causing your team, and we know exactly how to ease those burdens. More specifically, we understand why special events permitting is a special kind of headache, and we know how to alleviate it.

We don’t just offer a great product — we deliver great service, too.

See for yourself how OpenCounter can modernize your special events permitting, leading to greater efficiency and happier citizens. Get in touch and schedule a discovery session with us today.