Gainesville and UF develop artificial intelligence tool to speed up building design Welcome to Gainesville

Gainesville and UF develop artificial intelligence tool to speed up building design Welcome to Gainesville

Published October 30, 2023


The City of Gainesville is partnering with the University of Florida to accelerate the design and development of construction projects through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). It’s a technological advance that is changing the industry landscape, saving time and money while providing more accurate, comprehensive and potentially life-saving reporting on upcoming construction projects.

To obtain approval for any proposed development, developers must follow each municipality’s local laws. Understandably, this can complicate design plans. It is necessary to know the rules, pay attention to detail, and do a great deal of research before a project meets the standards of any given community.

Currently, the task of reviewing all those submitted plans is the work of plan reviewers in municipal offices. They perform the task of checking to ensure that plans comply with local laws, ordinances, and state regulations. This review process takes time. Large projects can move very slowly.

In 2017, Gainesville had a newly adopted digital permitting system and was looking for ways to increase efficiency in the building permit and review process. This led to the sponsorship of a research grant at UF aimed at finding ways to use artificial intelligence to improve the plan review process. The Building Department worked with the UF team continuously for three years regarding code compliance methodology, and then expanded the work to include planning reviews.

“I think in any industry you’re in, you have to look for innovation and you have to be able to leverage the resources around you,” said John Freeland, building official for the city of Gainesville. “And in our community, we are very fortunate to have the University of Florida here in our city.”

Through this partnership with the City of Gainesville, Dr. Nawari Nawari of the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning, along with co-founder Rob Christie, founded a software development company called AutoReview technologies perform fast, standardized, comprehensive, and consistent code reviews using a mix of the real and virtual worlds. Once the file is uploaded to the web portal, the Code Compliance Review Program will deliver municipal compliance results within 24 to 48 hours.

“Advancements in technology and artificial intelligence in the built and natural environment continue to evolve,” said Seth Watts, director of advancement in the College of Design, Building and Planning at the University of Florida. “The ability of companies like to be industry leaders in advancing our industry and our profession is exciting for the future.”

The Gainesville planning team played an integral role in developing the program, guiding software developers to support auditors’ needs while recognizing code compliance.

Now, AI audits are being adopted by other municipalities across the country, and planners in Gainesville are proud of their contributions to this exciting new technology.

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