The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for the condition of approximately 5,800 miles of streets and highways and 790 bridge structures, including six tunnels. DOT ensures traffic safety and mobility by mitigating the effect of construction on traffic; implementing engineering improvements; and installing and maintaining traffic signals at more than 11,800 intersections, over 1.3 million signs, over 300,000 streetlights, 69 million linear feet of markings and approximately 63,000 parking meters. The Department encourages the use of mass transit by overseeing the operation of four subsidized franchise bus companies, operating the Staten Island Ferry and promoting new private ferry routes. DOT also encourages the use of alternative modes of transportation, and administers a Citywide program advancing the use of alternative fuels.
As part of this mission, the DOT manages and administers permit applications which affect roads and bridges throughout the five boroughs. Contractors and project managers come to the DOT to submit and amend hundreds of permit applications per day, with multiple dependencies which must be managed and negotiated in order to both keep the city moving and to ensure public safety, as well as allowing important construction projects to be completed efficiently.
As part of a major office relocation, the New York City DOT contacted Q-nomy regarding the replacement of their existing ticketing system. Q-nomy consultants identified several areas of potential improvement. In the prior system, permit seekers were obligated to stand in line in order to begin the permit process, and then they would receive multiple tickets, often with confusing and complex code sequences. In many cases, permit seekers would have had to manage upwards of ten tickets in order to submit their permit applications. While the DOT personnel worked very hard to make the process the most efficient possible, their customers were often frustrated and confused, especially if they were newcomers to the DOT.
After a site survey at the previous DOT premises, and after reviewing the project requirements, the Q-nomy team was able to recommend and implement major improvements for both DOT customers and staff alike, using the Q-Flow® system.
The solution provided is based on these main components:
1. Q-Flow Customer Flow Management module
2. Q-Flow Back-Office Workflow module
3. Q-Flow Digital Signage module
4. Customized Permit Management screens, tailored to the DOT specifications and integrated into the Q-Flow workflow process.
The solution enabled the DOT to streamline the permit process, to make it almost entirely paperless and to turn it into a much more transparent experience than before to permit seekers.
The permit process now includes several main steps backed by the Q-nomy solution:
Upon entry, each individual customer is now given a single ticket, which represents the customer visit and keeps track of each individual folder of permit applications. This not only reduces printing costs, but minimizes confusion for both staff and visitors regarding who is being called and considerably lowers the probability of lost tickets. At the 'Intake' desk where a customer is first greeted and the permit process begins, each permit request is created as a new Q-Flow Process, with all of the permits being linked to the original ticket number. Each sub-process is routed to the correct permit inspection queue depending on the type of permit request, the borough, and so forth – as defined by DOT rules.
Customers may wait for the process to complete, or leave the premises and come back another day to receive the signed permits. Customers who wait, may be called forward by either front-desk agents, who would provide them with permit approvals (or rejections), or by back-office project managers who inspect the permits requests – should they need to ask the customer for additional information. Customers who leave and come back, may first check on the status of their different permits at a dedicated terminal near the reception, and based on that status can decide to stay and continue to wait for their approved permits. The entire processing of permits, from submission to final approval, is being documented using Q-Flow and customized Permit Management system provided by Q-nomy, replacing most of the paperwork once needed. Throughout the process, department managers can monitor and review the progress of each individual permit process, agent activity and overall department performance.
Along with the pleasant interior of the new offices, the novel process enabled by Q-nomy greatly improves the visitor experience and makes it much more relaxed than before. At the same time, it also makes the DOT agents more productive. DOT Management now has a complete vision into the permit process and can analyze the system to identify bottlenecks, see and take action on permit applications that are spending an excessive time in processing, and take further action to improve the functioning of transportation in the Big Apple.
The New York City DOT is considering various options offered by Q-nomy to further enhance the customer experience. One such improvement planned for the near future, includes the option for customers to check on the status of their different permits from their home, via a Web interface similar to the dedicated terminal available at the DOT offices.