city of san diego

Virtual Inspections Save City Time and Money

Pandemic-induced virtual meetings will stay after the pandemic goes

NBCUniversal, Inc.

There are no good sides to the coronavirus. However, the pandemic has forced some cities and businesses outside of their comfort zones in a positive way.

“It’s a fairly easy process to do,” said Dan Scherer as he sat inside his parked car with an iPad in his hands.

Scherer is a program manager in the City of San Diego’s Building Inspection Department. He’s one of the many inspectors charged with checking out 2,000 construction projects every week. That is a much harder task with social distancing public health standards. The coronavirus pandemic forced the department to embrace what many schools and businesses already embraced: Virtual meetings.

“Performing an inspection without actually visiting the site,” Scherer said. “Wherever I am, I can just go on my iPad and do an inspection.”

The City of San Diego uses Google Meet to walk contractors and property owners through an inspection.

“Water heaters, FAUs, solar panels: We can do quite a bit virtually,” he said.

“It is surprising that it is so much better and that they’ve adapted so quickly,” said Rachel Cantor, the Director of Design at Murray Lampert.

Cantor said she was surprised their construction businesses hasn’t fallen off during the pandemic. She added that virtual inspections have also been an improvement.

“First of all, it keeps us safe and it keeps the inspectors safe,” she said.

“It’s also beneficial for the contractor because we can give him an exact time,” added Schurer.

He said inspectors can give contractors a more precise virtual meeting time instead of offering a three or four-hour window.

“He doesn’t have to wait around and waste time and money,” Scherer said.

The process also saves the City of San Diego time and money without the inspectors driving from site to site.

“It’s been a great, exciting thing that’s been added that we’re hoping can stick around and continue after the pandemic is over,” Cantor said.

“We are going to continue this,” agreed Scherer.

A city of San Diego spokesman said the city is currently offering 23 common inspections and it hopes to add more. He said some inspections still must be done in person.

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