There's a new web app in town, and we are already mainlining it. It's called License to Inspect and it allows users to access Licenses and Inspections (L&I) records and information. While that may sound boring in theory—public-record web apps aren't exactly centerfold material—it will end up sucking you in.
Let's take an example. Say you walk by a giant construction site at 21st and Chestnut. There's a high-rise in process. Looks okay, you think, but something's nagging at you: What the heck used to be there? Even though you walked by this very spot all the time to see shows at First Unitarian Church, you don't have the vaguest idea what the building was.
Using the sleek interface of License to Inspect, designed by PlanPhilly and Azavea, do a search for the address and find not only all the electrical permits, construction permits, demolition permits, etc., but links to historical photos as well. When you discover that the soon-to-be residential apartment building was the site of the Louis Magaziner-designed Sydney Hillman medical center, you can click a link and got to another site to check out the document with the Historical Commission's stamp of approval for the demo. In short, you can totally geek out.
The tool is also searchable by type of "event," i.e., new construction permits, alteration permits, housing inspections and the like, which is how we know that one of Curbed Philly's neighbors is redoing the kitchen cabinets.
Why are we making such a big deal of this? Because knowledge is power. This tool isn't only for wonks or journalists or planners. You want to change your neighborhood or get involved? Want to know where you'll be able to rent next year? All the info is out there—and it just got a heck of lot easier to find.
· 'License to Inspect' enables easy monitoring of L&I data [PlanPhilly]
· License to Inspect: use this web app from PlanPhilly, Azavea to keep track of city property violations, construction permits and more [Technically Philly]
· Rites of Rental Passage: 2116 Chestnut Gets Its Cherry on Top [CPHI]