PHILADELPHIA – The City’s Smart City PHL team has launched the Permit Navigator pilot. This digital tool is designed to improve access to information about necessary permits, approvals, and requirements for selected types of residential and commercial projects. The Permit Navigator walks users through a series of questions and brings them to a summary page containing approximate costs and links to additional information to support them in continuing with their project.
The SmartCity PHL team at the Office of Innovation of Technology worked closely with Department of Commerce, Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) and Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to launch this pilot. If the pilot project is well-used by Philadelphians and provides value to them about in the City’s permitting process, it may scale further to include additional features.
The Permit Navigator tool was created in response to requests from business owners and homeowners for assistance determining what permits they need for their projects. The tool is for informational purposes only and does not affect the existing permitting processes. Currently, the Permit Navigator covers selected residential and commercial uses. Residential uses include permits for renovations to existing one- or two-family homes. Business uses are primarily commercial storefronts. The full list of current uses in this pilot is available online.
“The City of Philadelphia saw the need to create a digital tool to make information for smaller residential and commercial projects more accessible and centrally available to public users,” said Mark Wheeler, the City’s Chief Information Officer.
L&I Commissioner Ralph DiPietro said, “Technology upgrades have helped L&I substantially improve customer service. Piloting the Permit Navigator is another new and exciting step forward.”
“The Permit Navigator is designed to improve the ease of doing business for business owners looking to open or expand in Philadelphia. The goal is to make it easier for residents to find information on business permits and licenses,” said Anne Nadol, Commerce Director. “Commerce staff will continue to provide one-on-one customer service, outreach, and education to businesses about City services. We will also continue to advocate for and work on improvements to the processes of doing business in the city.”
“We enjoy partnering with the City to support and grow our business community. A simple and clear process with centralized information for opening a business is an initiative we have been advocating for on behalf of our membership,” said Jennifer Rodríguez, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “Thrilled to see the City rolling out the Permit Navigator, a pilot program to respond to this need.”
“The Department of Planning and Development partners with Commerce and L&I on a daily basis to support businesses opening in Philadelphia”, said Anne Fadullon, Director of the Department of Planning and Development. It is exciting that our work together and with the SmartCityPHL team has brought the Permit Navigator to the pilot stage.”
The Permit Navigator is a pilot project, and the goal is to understand if this tool is helpful to residents while they navigate the permit process. Staff will be conducting public engagement feedback sessions with businesses, stakeholders, community-based organizations, business associations and property owners in the coming months.
All feedback can be sent to the Smart City team at SmartCityPHL@phila.gov, who will be actively monitoring responses to refine the pilot application and inform potential expansion. The City is committed to improving or reimagining the Permit Navigator based on public interests and needs.
Learn more by reading the City’s blog post.