2. Create unified digital and analog public space permit application processes across multiple languages.

WHY As illustrated in the section “Navigating the current regulatory process,” prospective users and managers of our public realm are required to navigate a myriad of permitting and licensing processes designed uniquely by each agency. These processes occur across a mix of platforms—digital and analog— and are rarely integrated across agencies. Although SAPO may be able to coordinate and process nearly 70% of all permits and applications that are required to activate a public space like a street or plaza, the DOT may also require other permits that are processed separately. This means a community organization may be required to submit a W9 form, a professional license, or insurance to two separate agencies, doubling time and effort on the part of the applicant.
︎ A User Experience
︎ B Long-Term Coordination
︎ C Inclusive Design
︎ D Collaboration and Communication
︎ E Support commerce and entrepreneurship

︎ Process / Regulatory Framework
︎ Funding
︎ Technical Assistance

THE STORY Casita Maria, the first and oldest Latino-serving charity in New York City, has been activating public spaces in the South Bronx since 1961. Although they are not the official partners for Raul del Valle Square in Hunts Point, they frequently program performances and offer services for community members. The plaza is primarily managed by the Parks Department. However, for sound permits, Casita Maria has to communicate with the local NYPD 42nd Precinct; for festival permits, they work with the SAPO; and when they were looking to install public art on the railings in the plaza, they had to get approval from DOT. All of this can be chaotic for an organization to manage, but thankfully Casita Maria has deep roots in the neighborhood and knows the points of contact for each agency.

HOW TO IMPLEMENT In order to lower barriers to participation in our public realm, the City would need to integrate its permit application processes digitally while maintaining analog accessibility for those who are less digitally-savvy. Once formed, the “Public Realm Working Group,” a governing committee that will oversee all regulatory processes relating to the management and activation of the public realm, should work closely with Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (and other City agencies) to lead the consolidation of all software and applications used for permit and licensing processes. A single agreed-upon platform (whether a mobile-friendly website or a mobile app) that meets the needs of all City agencies and is user-friendly should be selected. Then, a standard operating procedure manual should be created for staff to adhere to. At this time, DOT is using Survey123 by ArcGIS to process Open Streets applications, while SAPO, DCPW, NYPD, NYC Parks, and NYC Media and Entertainment use E-Apply. In addition, all W9 and other tax records and business documents submitted by permit applicants should automatically be integrated for use across City agencies.

Ultimately, the unification and digitization of all public space permitting processes would enable the City to better collect information on public realm activations that occur throughout the boroughs, including their locations and times, and to communicate its successes to the public.

Case Study ︎︎︎  Case Study ︎︎︎  Case Study ︎︎︎  

︎ Kristina Volgenau

One Stop Shop

City of New Orleans, LA

To modernize and improve the way that city government serviced the general public, the City of New Orleans launched “One Stop”, a single destination, housed within City Hall, that streamlines permitting, licensing and other regulatory processes.

One Stop provides a single point of entry for permit and license applicants and facilitates interagency collaboration through a new central repository tracking system used by all departments. In addition to housing One Stop City staff in a single location (so they may be available to support any in-person applications or approvals), the City of New Orleans has tested a beta application that may also be used on digital devices.

Click here to see example: https://www.nola.gov/onestop/

Local community organizations with limited staff and resources would directly benefit from easier permitting processes. Furthermore, streamlined processes may encourage more frequent participation in the public realm.