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Thoughts on being proactive versus reactive.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is taking commendable strides at proactively keeping their communities and residents safe from a problem that is as pervasive as it is dangerous – lead poisoning. The high levels of led in the water of Flint, Michigan rightfully gained national outrage, yet many people don’t realize that lead poisoning is an issue across the United States. One report found that children have blood lead levels more than double those found in Flint, Michigan in more than 3,800 neighborhoods throughout the U.S. This contamination comes from peeling paint in the home, lead pipes in the walls and streets, and even the soil homes are built on. High levels of lead to health problems including inhibited brain and social development resulting in failures in school, delinquency, and crime. Lead is more than a public health issue, it is a public safety issue.

To get ahead of this health and safety issue facing the young children and future generations of New Yorkers a team of contracted inspectors will perform inspections for lead paint at 135,000 New York City Housing Authority apartments. The goal is to complete these inspections by the end of next year to rid all housing of lead paint. The work is in response to a Mayoral initiative to improve public safety and wellness.

Proactive efforts like these are at the heart of our mission at ARInspect; government agencies around our country are taking an active role in the protection and safeguarding of communities. Technology plays a key role in increasing and ensuring the quality of life for each and every person. It is, in fact, this proactive approach to public safety and welfare that inspired us to support government agencies in their critical role as enforcers of standards which lead to residents living their best lives.

After having hands-on experience acting as a contractor/consultant working on and studying government response efforts to hurricanes, tornadoes, and other man-made disasters, I found there was a commonality in public crisis failures. While in most cases they have the best of intentions, government agencies are working with legacy systems while being asked to solve modern-day and ever-growing complex problems. They could not be proactive as they were barely able to keep up with their current workload. Government is ready for modernization and has the tools at their fingertips to scale their teams and have 10x the impact than they did before.

In particular, a task the sheer size and timeline of the NYCHA’s lead investigation must require a digital solution that automates the collection of data. The traditional workflow that involves pulling and transporting paperwork on site, recording data on site and then returning to the office to input that information simply cannot meet the needs of the aggressive schedule of inspecting 5,000-7,000 apartments per month. With digital-enabled inspections, inspectors could increase their time in the field by 50%, increasing the number of inspections per inspector by 25%.

Another pitfall these teams must protect against is the fact that these inspections are being done by disparate contractors creating management and transparency challenges. Our customers, employing multiple contractor teams, have found that standardizing everyone on a single platform has provided better insight into how the project as a whole is progressing and how different teams are performing.

The article states that “NYCHA will post results of the testing online by May 1 and update them every two weeks.” This type of public transparency is what residents expect from their government, and to deliver this digital collection moves from a nice-to-have to a need to have quicker than ever before. Community access to real-time data means that residents are better protected as violations can be caught before they harm communities, not after.

We’ll be following the city’s progress on this initiative to see how proactive inspections are being carried out at scale and the impact it has on community health and confidence in the government.

Do you think government agencies are being proactive enough to keep our communities safe and ensure our businesses grow? Drop me a thought in the comments – I would love to get your perspective!