Get to Know OpenCounter’s Special Events Portal

Aside from first-rate restaurants, attractions, and sports venues, what do Cincinnati, Orlando, and Salt Lake City have in common? They’ve all partnered with OpenCounter to revolutionize their event permitting processes.

Event planners and municipal staff across the country know the pain and frustration of securing permits for large-scale events in public spaces. Complex paperwork (yes, working with actual paper). Layers of approvals across multiple departments. Endless inquiries from confused applicants.

But OpenCounter has taken the sting out of event permitting with our Special Events Portal — an innovative, end-to-end solution for all municipal departments involved in managing special events.

Why Is Special Event Permitting So Painful?

Before the pandemic, outdoor concerts, charity races, street fairs, parades, and a raft of other large-scale special events brought droves of visitors and significant revenue to cities every year — and with vaccines rolling out now, the world of special events is beginning to come to life again.

But the permitting process for these events is often extremely challenging for applicants and city staff alike. Not only do applicants have to navigate a series of permits across multiple departments, but staff resources are also drained by a large volume of questions from applicants. The experience is slow, inconsistent, frustrating — and ultimately costs cities money.

After all, if your process for obtaining a permit for, say, a concert at one of your city’s parks is too confusing or there are too many hurdles to jump through, event planners are all too happy to bail and choose another city for their events. This happens all too often, and municipalities — and the businesses therein — routinely lose out on coveted revenue as a result.

Special events hold the potential to put a city on the map or confirm its standing as the place for the arts, culture, sports, and so much more. So if your town doesn’t have the tools in place to make the applicant experience easy and frictionless — while also keeping City Hall safe from an avalanche of paper — you’re losing out on major opportunities to shine a spotlight on what makes your city great.

What OpenCounter’s Special Events Portal Brings to the Table

The event permitting solutions available to cities today are limited and still require rounds of back-and-forth between municipal staff and applicants to nail down dates and plan routes. And that’s assuming an applicant even makes it into the system, since there’s oftentimes no clear place to start in the permitting process. With multiple departments owning various aspects of special events permits, most cities lack a single point of entry for kicking off the process.

That’s where OpenCounter’s Special Events portal can make an immediate difference in your city’s permitting operations. Our innovative portal offers a one-stop shop for large-scale event permitting — while also improving visibility and collaboration across city departments and ensuring a consistent, delightful experience for the applicant.

Just imagine the efficiency and transparency that comes with having a single location to house all of the information associated with special event applications, rather than disparate email threads or paperwork stored across multiple offices.

With OpenCounter, that efficiency and transparency can be your new reality. Here’s how our Special Events Portal helps alleviate your pain points and streamline the complexities that make special events so challenging.

Remote-Friendly, Cross-Department Collaboration

Let’s say you’re planning a 5K fun run.

  • Which streets will need to be shut down?
  • How many people are expected at the event?
  • Are noise ordinances applicable?
  • Will there be food prepared on-site?
  • Will there be alcohol?

The answers to these questions — and so many more — determine which permits and fees will be required and which city departments will be involved in the permitting process and the actual event.

For instance, you may need to involve the city manager, the department of transportation, parks and recreation, the police department, the life safety department, and the department of health. That’s a lot of permits, a lot of fees, a lot of cross-department collaboration — and a lot of time!

To replace cluttered email threads, antiquated calendar software, and paperwork shuffling, OpenCounter’s Special Events Portal collects all of the application data in one place, automatically delegates applicable forms to the necessary departments, and keeps everyone — both applicants and city employees — in the loop with one centralized application tracker.

And it’s all 100% remote-friendly. That means your city can keep the permitting ball rolling anytime, anywhere, all online.

Routes, Locations, and Schedules (Oh My!)

No other product on the market can rival our Special Events Portal in its ability to manage routes, locations, and scheduling.

Consider again the 5K fun run we mentioned before:

  • What’s the best route for the race?
  • Where should the starting and finish lines be?
  • Where can we host a post-race event?

Plotting these points on paper makes it difficult to get a full perspective at once and in context, not to mention paper maps will tell you nothing about resource availability, pertinent restrictions, or other considerations.

OpenCounter’s Special Events Portal has powerful, innovative capabilities for scouting and selecting event locations and routes in real-time. It combines the functional ease of familiar navigation apps with city data to determine which routes and locations are suitable and available.

Just think of all the hours of meetings, phone calls, emails, and paperwork staff can avoid thanks to a literal click of the mouse! It’s staggering. (And, if you’re city government enthusiasts like us, very exciting!)

We Take Care of Everything — from Permit Discovery to Issuance

Our Special Events Portal provides an end-to-end approach to digital permitting. From permit discovery to form intake to digital issuance, real-time fee calculation to payment collection, multi-department review and collaboration, and scheduling too — it’s not hyperbolic to say this portal does it all.

What’s better, the portal is as configurable as it is streamlined. Each city has its own unique policies and regulations, which is why OpenCounter will work closely with your teams to make sure every particularity is accounted for. Attendance limitations, zoning implications, food policies, noise codes, fire safety restrictions, security requirements — it’s all mapped out in the portal.

OpenCounter: Your Partner in All Things Permitting

Since 2013, OpenCounter has become the virtual permitting counter for dozens of cities across the country — from San Diego to Miami and from Detroit to Fort Worth. Our suite of portals has made it easy for their constituents to understand zoning requirements, which permits they need, how much they cost, and how to apply. The end result? Better business development, increased revenue growth, and more citizen engagement.

After all, when it’s easier to open a business, renovate a home, host a special event, or renew a license in your community, the results are happier, more informed citizens, more businesses opening their doors, and more tourists experiencing everything that makes your city great.

Plus, our products are all backed by OpenCounter’s in-house team of public sector experts — people with deep knowledge of all things permitting and licensing, who work in lockstep with each of our clients to ensure the best outcomes for each engagement. We know the complex processes you’re straining under and how to ease those burdens.

But we don’t just offer a great product — we thrive on providing great service, too.

Find out how OpenCounter can modernize your permitting and licensing, leading to greater efficiency and happier citizens. Get in touch with us today.