approving plan applications using its self-developed Housing Electronic Submission System (HePlan).
The HePlan system handled a total of about 4,400 electronic plan submission in 2020, nearly doubling the estimated 3,500 electronic plan submissions processed by the ICU the year before.
Available online around the clock, people can submit their applications any time at their convenience. What’s more, the submission process is not affected by special work arrangements that have been put in place amid COVID-19.
“Applicants for the Housing Authority’s (HA) new development projects as well as for alteration and addition works at HA buildings may submit electronic plans and related documents to the ICU via an electronic format,” said Martin Tso, head of the ICU. The ICU exercises building control of properties under the HA – which also include sold or diverted properties
He added: "We communicate with the applicants through the HePlan directly. The use of the system has effectively reduced social contacts between the applicants and approving officers, enabling the ICU to maintain a high quality of services in approving building control submissions in a timely manner during the pandemic and to fulfil our performance pledge.”
Furthermore, the system embraces a completely paperless processing procedure, saving applicants much time and effort in carrying bulky plans to the ICU, which in turn also saves a lot of storage space previously required for keeping submitted plans and documents.
The ICU has been very proactive in adapting technology to improve and streamline its processes. For one, the HePlan is linked with the Independent Checking Unit Site Mobile System (ICUSMS), another electronic system of the unit.
Launched in May last year, the ICUSMS adopts mobile technology to facilitate site inspections. By linking the two systems, relevant electronic plans and documents can be downloaded directly from the HePlan system to mobile devices before site inspections, thus further enhancing digitisation and operational efficiency of site-monitoring inspections.
Currently, the ICU is developing another IT system to automate the checking of test reports of construction materials, which is targeted to be rolled out by the end of this year. The system will help with checking the compliance of the test results for 80,000 reports of steel reinforcement and concrete tests received annually through the HePlan so that the efficiency of vetting electronic submissions will further be enhanced.