Planning Ministry to automate building approvals

Above: Town and Country Planning Development’s Automation Project: Developers CrimsonLogic President Mr. Saw Ken Wye, Minister of Planning and Development, Minister of Trade, IDB’s Ms Rocio Medina-Bolivar, Country Representative of Trinidad and Tobago and Chief Administrator, THA at the official launch of the TCPD’s Transformation Project’s Automation initiative at NAPA. Photo courtesy Ministry of Planning.

At the official Launch of the Automation of Building Approval Process Project on Wednesday 13 June at the NAPA Chinese Ballroom, the Ministry of Planning and Development in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry introduced a digitized approach to the TCPD’s application process along with two other components of the Transformation Projects, Service Delivery and Digitization.

The Automation project will synchronize and connect over 25 state agencies involved in the Construction Permitting Process of Trinidad and Tobago and streamline the process of applying for simple or complex building approval. The Automated application being developed by CrimsonLogic Group Trinidad and Tobago, headed by President Saw Ken Wye, intends to have users access the portal via the TTBizLink and ttconnect or through TCPD webpage.

The portal will give TCPD officers access to application requests and plotting information on the building site, via a smart device.  This will expedite the work process and assist with responding to applicants within the mandatory 60day time frame.

Currently the Building Application Process is fully paper based and takes approximately 16 procedures and close to 253 days to complete. However by connecting the agencies such as Water and Sewage Authority (WASA), Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) and Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the municipal corporations; one would be able to request, apply and receive certificates with a few clicks of the mouse or a touch of a screen.

Decreasing duplication of procedural time and having to physically go to a host of agencies to gain documents. In fact with the success of the Automation project Trinidad and Tobago is expected to rank in the top 50 of Ease of Doing Business Report (World Bank) with a combined reduction in the time and number of procedures. The project is funded under the Single Electronic Window (SEW), Inter-American Development Bank’s Loan Facility and strengthens this system.

It is the aspiration of the Division that through improvement of business operations it will deliver excellence in service to their internal and external clients. In light of this commitment TCPD’s Transformation Project has also included a Service Delivery component that speaks to the communication and responsiveness of the institution as well as the environment offered to both staff and clients. One such application has been afforded to the public through a newly designed webpage dedicated to TCPD information, updates and frequently asked questions. Another contact point is an email address where requests for information and comments can be made.

The third leg of the Transformation Project initiative will also lend to the overall approach of timeliness, responsiveness and accuracy in decision making. As a professional planner it would be appreciated that the backbone of planning is access to historical data of plotting maps and layouts.

TCPD’s Planners stand for nothing less. It is of critical importance when making decisions on building development proposals to have legacy data to reference.  It must be appreciated that TCPD data is approximately 50 years old and are historically rich and considered critical data to land use development. In many cases these files are in a delicate state. To solve this dilemma it has been decided to Digitize legacy data from 2002 – 2017 in an effort to make these files easily accessed and preserved for many more years to come.

“An Automated System, backed by a digitized, paperless information repository has both philosophical and practical underpinnings,” said Camille Robinson Regis Minister of Planning and Development at the launch.

“In the first place, it responds to the Government’s strategic focus articulated in Theme 2 of Vision 2030: National Development Strategy for Trinidad and Tobago:  Good Governance and Service Excellence, which emphasizes ‘strengthening the capacity and operations of the public institutions’ in a bid to facilitate better service delivery.”

“Secondly, from a practical perspective, the implementation of Automation and Digitization which will have manifold benefits; to staff of the Town and Country Planning Division by providing them with the tools to efficiently research, assess and determine development proposals; to sister agencies who can work collaboratively with the TCPD in facilitating development through a shared virtual space; and finally to the clients and external end users who will benefit from transparency in the policies and standards which regulate land use, as well as faster application processing times.”