How much paper do you think each city hall accumulates, considering the number of application procedures that it performs every day? It’s probably hard to measure, but it’s a lot.
The engineering department at Nicoya city hall looks very different today than it did six years ago.
“There were boxes, folders, and sets of blueprints everywhere,” recalls Josué Ruiz, the head engineer for the department. “There were even rats doing things inside the boxes.”
Today, after a slow process, that department was able to reduce the amount of paper used in application processes by 92%.
In 2015, for example, they processed 524 construction permits, the equivalent of 114.2 kilograms of paper. In 2017, that amount fell to 9.4 kilograms for 504 permits.
How were they able to reduce the amount of paper? By implementing an information system that made it possible for permit requests, along with all the paper required for permits, to be practically eliminated. Now only one page is printed for each project that is under development and placed in a registry folder.
Everything else is processed by the Construction Project Administrator, an information system designed by the professional association of architects and engineers and implemented in Nicoya city hall in mid-2016. Right now, all of Guanacaste’s city governments, with the exception of Santa Cruz, use it.
Sustainability and Efficiency
The three people that work in this department digitized as many files as possible in order to throw out the accumulated paper.
Once digitized, and with the implementation of the information system, they reduced the wait time for construction permits.
Now they are able to consult a digital archive and find out where to look for the documents in the boxes that they organized and, with the information system, are able to give quick responses to the requests of Nicoyans.
“If all the requirements come in properly, the permits are issued the same day. Before it took more than 20 days,” the engineer explained.d
Keeping environmental sustainability in mind, the department is also experimenting with creating its own sheets of paper using recycled paper.
As a policy, city hall also implements other “green” practices such as the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, prohibiting the use of aerosol and hiring catering services that use recycled materials or materials made of glass.