New software tool will track and map City of Baltimore-owned property



The City of Baltimore is looking to revamp the system it uses to buy and sell public goods.

To do this, the City of Baltimore Department of Housing and Community Development recently contracted a software tool from the Boston-based company Tolemi, called Slate. In partnership with the Real Estate Department of the City of Baltimore Comptroller’s Office, the City is modernizing and centralizing data held in different systems and formats across departments and agencies to streamline information and decision-making regarding properties public.

With this tool, the City will be able to create, geocode and integrate new information on properties and projects into a mapping application, as well as all other City data. The software will allow services to track property workflows based on what stage they are in and how long they last at a certain point in the process. It will also generate a dashboard, allowing you to track exactly where each property is and identify bottlenecks.

“It will be an improvement day and night for our customers and also internally for the staff,” said Alice kennedy, Acting Housing Commissioner. “This will help us speed up the disposition process and overall provide a significant benefit to the taxpayer in terms of ease of use and better customer service.

The system will help digitize and automate manual processes based on spreadsheets that are 15 years old. Officials said it would bring services such as paying for tax liens or buying vacant city housing to something more compliant with an app that allows private market buying, such as Zillow.

Last week, the City Estimates Council approved the purchase of a three-year license from Slate. The contract is valued at $ 423,000, according to Board of Estimates documents.

Government agencies will perform a complete systems overhaul to reduce or eliminate redundant and manual tasks.

“One of the cool things about Slate is built-in process improvement, which requires us, with the help of the Slate team, to completely deconstruct a process that has been in place for many years and rebuild it in a way. to promote efficiency, transparency and fairness ”, declared Andy Franck, the acting director of real estate in the comptroller’s office for the city of Baltimore.

Frank put the improvement in context by explaining how it will enhance the City’s Vendor Lien program, which sells tax certificates to buyers who agree to renovate a property to own or rent in exchange for a negotiated reduction in the amount. privilege.

Under the current system, buyers can only purchase three certificates for City properties under the program at a time, in part based on capacity.

Slate, in turn, increases this capability by automatically creating the required tasks when a provider’s privilege process is initiated. Customizable form generation will eliminate the need to recreate and edit the same documents over and over, Frank said. Communications with clients will be fully managed within the platform and all documents are contained within the system, meaning there is no need to file physical copies or store critical documents on networks. local.

Implementation will be phased, which will take approximately four months from the City’s first engagement with the Slate team. Expect the first workflow in Slate to be built by the end of this year. The entire overhaul is expected to be completed by summer 2022.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of the Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-



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