Burlington Turns to AI to Speed Permitting Processes

By Ralph Weatherby

January 24th, 2024



As AI technology continues to offer tremendous benefits in different areas of life, many towns and cities worldwide are now turning to this technology to enhance the life experiences of their residents. Noteworthy, other spaces like the entertainment sector are also benefitting from AI’s abilities. In the movie industry, for instance, AI-powered tools have made tasks like rotoscoping, object tracking, and CGI generation to become more efficient. This technology streamlines workflows, automates repetitive tasks, and enables sophisticated scene reconstruction.

AI gives players options they could only dream of in the past. It is much more sophisticated and much more fun.

Moreover, technological advancements coupled with the internet’s popularity have transformed customer experiences by providing instantaneous access to information, services, and products. For instance, in the iGaming industry, online casinos now allow players to access different variations of casino games, like table games and slots, immediately from any place. The 24/7 availability of the games also allows gamblers to engage in their favourite games anytime without having to visit physical casinos.

With AI, it becomes possible to put together different pieces of information based on player behaviour and customize game features such as bonus rounds, free spins, and multipliers in real-time. And that is what Burlington stands to enjoy – quicker and real-time processes. The city became the second in Canada to integrate AI in a pilot program meant to speed permit issuance and reduce the red tape that slows down the permit procedure. The program began in July 2023 and was projected to be concluded by the end of the same year.

The Process

The program uses AI algorithms to digitize rules contained in the zoning bylaws about industrial-commercial buildings. After an applicant submits a proposed design, the platform evaluates the design against the digitized rules. At this phase, an understanding of the complexity of codes is established, and data is assembled to establish an assessment template for the AI.

Development applications printed on paper required more time to process than a digital document.

The algorithm then assesses the applicants’ submission to see whether it meets requirements for things like heights, parking ratios, setbacks, floor area ratios, and landscape areas. A prompt compliance report is made available to applicants with a summary of design aspects that have failed or passed. Furthermore, the platform was projected to enable checking for design compliance on all types of development.

Burlington’s executive director of digital services, Chad MacDonald, mentioned that, as part of its development, the AI algorithm would be subjected to iterative adjustments to enhance its results. The director further indicated that the city’s administration was committed to integrating innovative technologies to make the city work faster and smarter.

What Can Potential Applicants Look Forward to

Marianne Meed Ward, Burlington’s Mayor, stated that this AI-based program was one of their strategies to make building in the city easier. By leveraging AI’s ability in building, potential applicants will save time during application processes due to the reduced number of manual submissions between clients and the city’s staff.

A digital application makes it possible to run software against the document – that can cover small concerns quickly and at far less cost.

Furthermore, applicants can expect prompt feedback on proposals, allowing for faster submission adjustments. This AI technology will also shorten design time and improve the quality of design submissions. There are more benefits that applicants are projected to enjoy, including reduced costs due to reduced design revisions and improved transparency during the review process.

The adoption of AI into Burlington’s permitting processes is a clear demonstration of how different processes can be simplified with AI. AI technology offers dynamic benefits, so we can expect more AI integrations in different cities and industries to enhance life experiences.


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