Las Vegas doubles down on digital transformation with Bluebeam Revu

digital environment

With paper plans spread across three different offices, and each approval taking up to six weeks, the City of Las Vegas needed a new way to handle its 20,000 yearly permit requests. Enter Bluebeam Revu, which is transforming the digital environment

The City of Las Vegas averages close to 20,000 planning, building and licensing permits a year; a volume that depends on accuracy, efficiency and collaboration across multiple reviewers, disciplines and jurisdictions. Using paper-based plan reviews to manage these permits was causing multiple inefficiencies.

On paper, plans could only be reviewed one discipline at a time, taking a week or more per discipline, across a minimum of five different disciplines. Printed mylars then had to be routed to five utility companies for final signatures, a lengthy process which was taking up to six weeks at a time.

Storage was also an issue, with paper plans scattered across three different repositories, taking up costly space. In addition, when remote working became mandatory due to global health concerns, making in-person, paper-based review sessions was simply no longer possible.

Yolanda Palomo, process review coordinator at the City of Las Vegas, summed up the problem: “Our volume is around 15,000 to 20,000 permits a year. And on a monthly basis, we probably do around 1,653 reviews on projects and around 500 projects a month. Each one of those projects has multiple reviewers. Now Covid hits and we’re told to go home. How do you get paper plans to five different reviewers in five different locations? If we didn’t have access to Revu, I think we would have been completely stalled for weeks. The projects would have been delayed for months.”

Collaborative digital environment

The city chose Bluebeam Revu as a single solution that could combine planning, building and licensing together into a collaborative digital environment, transforming previously paper-based workflows into an electronic plan review process.

“We saw Bluebeam as best-of-breed when it comes to plan review and markups,” said Rick Virmani, development services systems manager at the City of Las Vegas.

Rick and his IT team designed the new workflows and created an automated system utilising Bluebeam’s open API capability. This allowed for seamless integration with Infor, a permitting system infrastructure enabling locational links to the plans for both submitters and plan reviewers.

Bluebeam’s real-time collaboration solution, Studio, linked multiple departments, as well as submitters and plan reviewers for real-time concurrent reviews, allowing reviewers to work remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

digital environment

Reviews were also standardised, thanks to Bluebeam’s best-in-class Markups List and Tool Chest features, which helped improve production times and ultimately facilitated more projects for the city.

Michael Cunningham, deputy director, CBO, City of Las Vegas, explained the added value that Bluebeam brought to the design review process: “The Bluebeam website also has templates where you can download some of the more common markups and so we implemented those, too. Now we have consistent and easy-to-understand markups, which make reviews faster and much easier to complete.”

The city wasn’t just able to keep projects moving during the Covid pandemic; it actually saw a measurable improvement in time and money spent.

Customers filing for permits save an average of $100 (£75) in printing costs for each submittal, which translates as an annual saving of at least $600,000 (£447,000) for the local development industry.

One customer working on a new hospital tower estimates the savings for their project was $4,930 (£3,675) by eliminating paper and drive time to city offices.

Electronic plan review with Revu allowed remote working and cut eight review processes in half to four steps, saving weeks of time and hassle.

Instant access and standardised markups save time per review, with Studio Sessions saving weeks per review across multiple disciplines and plan reviewers.

Eliminating paper saved both cost and space — city reviewers have moved out of one building and consolidated staff into smaller spaces.

Yolando Paloma summed up by stating: “We believe there is huge value for the customer and for the jurisdiction. With less paper and fewer customers travelling to our offices, we are also helping to reduce our carbon footprint to be more sustainable in the process.”

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