FRACCA President Message
Rick Sims 10-16-19
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about our trade is that it’s continuously advancing with new technological innovations. Most often we think of manufacturer led innovations that advance methods, materials or components to bring benefits to consumers. I was recently introduced to a new Florida grown innovation that does this by updating the inspections process for AC equipment replacements using tech we all have. While attending the October meeting of MACCA ( Manasota Air Conditioning Contractors Association ) I was introduced to the new video inspection program offered by Manatee County Development Services that uses technology to better facilitate AC changeout inspections. I was very impressed. Congratulations to MACCA for sticking with this idea for so long and now finally seeing it really happen. Congratulations to Manatee County for your outstanding innovation.
Basically, it works like this; a completed AC equipment replacement is recorded in high def video using a mobile device. There are very specific guidelines explaining exactly what the contents will show ( and not show ). The video is uploaded to the Manatee County inspections portal where it is reviewed inhouse for compliance and approved digitally without need for a conventional on-site inspection. The program is voluntary; contractors or owners who want a conventional inspection can still get one. It is specifically for like-for-like AC equipment replacements.
Think of all the direct and indirect benefits. Scheduling of inspections is basically eliminated as are arranging and coordinating physical access for the inspector. It eliminates any inconveniences posed to the owner to facilitate the inspection. These are some of the primary things that building departments and contractors must devote resources to manage daily that simply go away with this new program. In SWFL, 35% of all permits are for AC equipment replacements; there is no other permit type with this high level of demand. Anytime a municipality can so drastically improve the efficiency of its highest volume service, it’s a big deal. The elimination of travel to provide inspection services is a fast lane to slashing the cost of providing these services and erases a great deal of carbon footprint from operations.
This is a very smart use of today’s technology. Everybody can take HD video these days and uploading it to Manatee County has been made as easy as posting to social websites. Municipal technology is often behind the times and clunky; it’s great to see one take a leap ahead like this. Many building departments already casually use still images to supplement plans, communicate or maybe even to make verifications of compliance. These are often just mail attachments and may come with file size limitations. This new program is set up for simple upload directly from the mobile device directly into the inspections portal. HD video can be reliably transmitted without file size issues. Manatee County can review the video to determine compliance without coordination with contractors or owners. They never even have to leave the building; the video is GPS and time stamped proving time and location recorded. Real time GPS and time data make it more than just a video; it’s a data augmented recording. There are specific guidelines that protect the integrity of code compliance and the privacy of those whose property is recorded. Owners must agree that video content will become public record or may opt out.
Thanks to all those MACCA members who worked so patiently for this. We will see you at the 2020 FRACCA Education Conference on Daytona Beach where you can let us know how this new program is working out and whether you can recommend it to the rest of us.
NOTE: We would also like to recognize the City of North Port for also instating video inspections as well!!