Ankeny Launches LAMA for Building and Planning

Ankeny, Iowa has a population of about 50k and it is located just north of Des Moines and east of Saylorville lake.  Ankeny makes up part of the Des Moines greater metropolitan area.  The city was founded in 1875 and much of its infant growth can be attributed to the coal mining boom in Iowa in the early 20th century.  Now, about a century later, Ankeny is once again growing rapidly.  The city’s population has tripled since 1980 and the 2013 census affirmed that it was the fastest growing city in Iowa for the previous year.  Dan Filger, the planning and zoning commissioner for the city, described this trend to the Des Moines Register, “If you look at our comprehensive plan, which goes out to 2035, we are planning on having a population of 90k.”

Naturally as Ankeny’s population has increased, so has its development.  The number of new building permits issued in 2014 rose 27% from 2013 and the total property valuation increased 16%.  To compensate for the increased demand for city services, Ankeny decided to upgrade their municipal software to LAMA Server, a comprehensive city management software suite from the Davenport Group.  LAMA Server combines the latest ERP, GIS, web, and mobile technologies to solve major problems facing cities today.  It was designed by a team with decades of city planning and GIS experience and the product line has been in development since 2005.  As a result, LAMA Server was created to fit seamlessly with municipal processes and not the other way around.  And if a legacy process happens to be extremely unique?  No problem, LAMA Server has the flexibility to adapt to unique problems as well.

Ankeny officials expect the new software platform to significantly increase efficiency.  LAMA Server’s Public Web module is one great example of this improvement.  The Public Web module acts as an interface between the city and the general public.  Citizens can apply and pay for services online, track their current projects, and any publicly available projects in their area.  LAMA Server also contains workflow logic that can adjust reviews and requirements automatically, on the fly, depending on the outcome of previous events (e.g. a hearing or an inspection).  Couple that with an automatic notification and messaging system and it’s impossible for an application to fall through the cracks.  Also, with the LAMA mobile app, inspectors can schedule and process inspections onsite, in real time.

The software isn’t limited to improving efficiency either, it also helps to improve quality and accountability, major focuses of Ankeny.  When the Des Moines Register interviewed Ankeny City Manager David Jones, he said that just because Ankeny is now among the 743 incorporated places in the United States with populations of 50,000 or larger, it won’t change the way the city goes about its carefully crafted business.  According to David, “Numbers are great and growing is important, but it is all about quality growth,” Jones said. “Planned growth. Strategic growth. Our growth is appreciated in our community to varying degrees. I think our growing pains have been fairly standard. You have to stay on top of the infrastructure needs and you have to pay attention to traffic patterns. We know we are poised for what awaits us.”  LAMA Server has several tools that allow municipalities to exceed their development goals and standards.  Most importantly it is integrated with an Arc GIS mapping interface.  Planners use the map interface to quickly evaluate projects in the context of their surrounding area and available GIS data.  LAMA Server is also integrated with Blue Beam for completing comprehensive plan reviews.  And finally, the program contains a robust reporting service that allows officials to maintain a higher level perspective of their path and trajectory.

Ankeny’s remarkable growth has increased the responsibility of the government maintain their development plan despite the increased workload.  Communication Officer Deb Dyer told Iowa Living Magazine, “We did a citizen survey, and the results showed that 94 percent of respondents thought Ankeny was a great place to live, work and raise their families and felt a real sense of community, which is significant when a large portion of the population hasn’t lived here that long.”  By upgrading their software to LAMA Server, Ankeny officials are reassured that they have the tools to manage their city’s growth and maintain the Ankeny’s unique community.

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