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Contractors Praise Benefits of San Jose's Online Building Permit System; Several-day Process is Now Almost Instantaneous With PureEdge InternetForms and Digital Signatures.

Business Editors and Technology Writers


E-Gov 2000 Conference--In a city that has seen high building volumes over the past four years, contractors in San Jose are quickly and happily adapting to a new Web-based initiative that drastically reduces the amount of time and paper needed to receive a building permit.

The City of San Jose uses InternetForms from PureEdge, the leader in legally binding XML solutions for e-commerce, for the groundbreaking e-government system that also uses digital signatures as a replacement for paper-based signatures on the permit applications.

"We couldn't wait for San Jose to get its online system up and running. It's a big time-saver for us," said Henry Warren, owner of Absolutely Water Heaters in Monterey, Ca. Mr. Warren had high praise for the system which enables him to process a building permit in minutes instead of days or weeks. "It's quick. It's easy. It's pretty much self-explanatory. We log on, fill in the form, attach our digital signature, press a button, and in a minute or so we print off a building permit with a permit number."

Mr. Warren's company applies for about 1000 building permits per year and he said he is looking forward to the day when permits from all municipalities can be processed online. "The more the better," he said, noting he would especially "love to get the city of Cupertino online. We still have to go down to City Hall to get our permits there."

"What was taking at least three to four days is now done almost instantaneously," said Scott Troyer, permit center manager for San Jose's building division. "Contractors can issue their own building permits in the time it takes to fill in the form. They love it. It also frees our staff to service other areas that weren't getting proper attention before."

In what is believed to be the first ever program for a civic government to issue permits via the Internet since California legalized digital signatures in January, contractors and homeowners can apply online for 22 different building permits where a technical review is not required. These permits are regularly issued for work such as roofing, piping, and water heater replacements. More than 15,000 of these permits are issued annually.

As well as improving service to its customers, the online building permit application also saves the city processing and administration costs and frees staff for more complex projects. The online application form interfaces with the city's database and can verify certain key information such as address, the owner's name, whether the contractor has a business license, whether the property is in the historic database, and the applicant's credit card information. If everything checks out, the application is verified and the applicant can print the document.

Mail-in building permit applications have a high error rate, said Mr. Troyer, which added time and labor to the process. "Complications disappear" with the online system, he added, citing incorrect addresses, checks issued for the wrong amount, and credit card problems as the most common errors.

The site, launched May 12 at, requires applicants have a valid email address, a major credit card, the PureEdge InternetForms Viewer (available as a free download), a digital signature to verify the sender's identity, and a printer. Applicants without digital signatures can still apply online, however they would have to print the form and mail it to the city.

"With the legal recognition of digital signatures, the scope of services available to residents from all levels of government is going to skyrocket," said PureEdge CEO Eric Jordan. "PureEdge InternetForms are already an integral component to a wide variety of e-government solutions at the civic, state and federal levels. We look forward to continued work with the City of San Jose as it enhances its e-government services in the future."

The City of San Jose selected the XML-based InternetForms from PureEdge because of their ability to accept digital signatures and the city's need for a legal repository for information. The new permit application process is part of a larger project that will eventually allow development permits to be processed online.

Intergraph Corporation developed San Jose's system, which also uses digital signatures from Digital Signature Trust Company and real-time credit card processing from CyberSource.

About PureEdge

Named a Top Ten E-Commerce Company by InternetWeek and a Company to Watch by Wall Street and Technology, PureEdge is the recognized leader in creating legally binding transactions for e-commerce and the development of secure e-commerce standards. PureEdge products include the award-winning InternetForms Commerce System(TM) and an upcoming suite of applications for the financial services industry. PureEdge customers are Global 2000 and public sector organizations including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Chase Bank, Arvest Bank, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Allina Health System, Ameritech, and American Legal Net. PureEdge actively promotes interoperable e-commerce through its participation in a wide range of industry associations and standards bodies such as the W3C, the American Bar Association, NACHA, and CommerceNet. For more information, visit or call 888/517-2675 or 250/479-8334.

Note: PureEdge, UWI.Com, InternetForms, and InternetForms Commerce System are trademarks of PureEdge Solutions Inc. All other products named herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Jul 11, 2000
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