Open data is helping move infrastructure-related contracting in a digital direction. Government agencies are increasingly connecting their large data sets, adding online portals and relying on open data to improve construction planning, permitting and the contracting process. Availability of quality infrastructure related data can help vendors avoid unnecessary costs and project delays while ensuring quality and safety. These findings are included in Onvia’s new report, 3 Trends Shaping State & Local Contracting in 2016.
Infrastructure-related projects such as education facilities and roadway construction represent a large part of total government spending. They are heavily regulated and complex, and are often managed by the agency with slow, paper-based processes. Open data has the potential to increase efficiency within an agency in terms of moving faster providing information and approvals, but it also makes the vendor’s process more efficient and lowers business risks through timely access to data and greater certainty about project status.
Greater efficiency in the permitting system results in more certainty for the business community, particularly for project investment and planning.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Three Ways Open Data Helps Infrastructure Vendors
Onvia’s research into open data revealed three specific ways that this trend is helping infrastructure vendors of all types to be more competitive and efficient:
1) More Efficient Permitting
With open data, an infrastructure contractor no longer needs to wait hours in line for an approval or for a response to a permitting question. Online permitting, shared publicly in one place and allowing contractors to interact and do business, is now an established offering from many larger cities. While the costs of custom open data systems have been a challenge for smaller agencies in the past, newer off-the-shelf products can help build these portals in a cost-effective process.
2) Easy Access to Mapping Data
Open data can provide instant online access to geospatial data connected to public records, showing exact property lines and where contractors are allowed to drill or excavate on a project, staying within boundaries and avoiding hidden underground pipes or cables. Mapping-related data such as zoning or parcel information is a category of open data sets with very strong demand by business users.
3) Prevailing-Wage Transparency
Open data helps in the area of “prevailing wage compliance” where this is required by individual states. This involves government sharing their up-to-date wage database information and standards in a convenient business-friendly portal that helps save administrative time on the part of the infrastructure contractor and minimizes the chances of a government audit and fines from being out of compliance.