The Chicago Dept. of Building's new online permitting system, which lets applicants see review comments as they accumulate, is proving popular, with 4,000 hits a week.

Some projects need review from many agencies and sub-disciplines within departments. With the new system, developed in-house, a bar code application number is fixed on incoming plan sets. Reviewers swipe the bar code and enter comments via a sheet of pre-set bar codes, an on-screen menu or a keyboard. Applicants can see the comments on the Internet within 24 hours.

"I can be working on changes while other reviews are ongoing," says Joe D. Hollingsworth, principal with Chicago-based architects DeStefano and Partners.