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Accelerated building design: A.I. saves Gainesville time and money

Building approval, permitting and planning used to be a drag in municipal offices. Now, the former three-week-long process could be shortened to as little as 24 hours. 

The city of Gainesville is partnering with innovators at the University of Florida to increase the efficiency of construction projects using artificial intelligence technology. City officials say the new technology, AutoReview.AI, will save time and money in producing reports on upcoming construction projects.

“Our goal is to automate the permitting process to bring it down to one day.” said software developer Nawari Nawari, a professor at the UF College of Design, Construction and Planning. “But we still have a long way to go.”

The city announced Oct. 30 the implementation of this technology. The advance will not affect taxpayers.

AutoReview.AI is the first AI solution that automates compliance reviews by transcribing thousands of pages of manual code, according to the company’s website. 

From first-time homeowners to large developers planning a subdivision, the review process falls on the planner’s desk. To receive approval for any proposed development, planners must conduct a substantial amount of research before a project meets community standards.

“It’s time-consuming,” Nawari said. “If there is a way to automate that process and eliminate a lot of the tediousness, it definitely helps planners a lot.”

Developers must follow local ordinances, state regulations and codes specific to the area — a process that city planners said is cumbersome. He said the tool uses different A.I. techniques to provide the planners, developers, architects, contractors, engineers and officials to more efficiently use their time and resources.

“When I am reviewing projects, we are given three weeks, or 15 business days, to review something and that's just because there are so many projects that get submitted in Gainesville there’s lots of development happening,” said Nathaniel Chan, a city planner. “We only have so many people. That’s definitely a time crunch.”

Linda Chervenak Maze, deputy chief plans examiner, agreed. She said the day in the life of a planner is packed. She also clarified AutoReview.AI will not take planner jobs, but rather make them more efficient.

“They have three to five projects they’re working on at a time,” she said. She estimates just one project takes six hours of research to find information for compliance. “You also have to add in meetings and any other kind of job-related items, that’s a very, very full day for a planner. Any kind of software that can take work off of their plate is fantastic.”

In an announcement, the city of Gainesville said that once a file is uploaded to the AutoReview.AI portal, the software will deliver its municipal compliance results in 24-48 hours.

Although Chan said he is optimistic about the software, he emphasized the importance of the technology adapting over time.

“Building development code changes,” he said. “How we view safety and housing changes over time too. It's an ongoing conversation.” 

He also said planners do “translating work” to make the reviews sound more human — especially with a wide array of citizens submitting proposals. 

“A big developer is different from someone who is trying to build their first home,” he said. “The language needs to sound like something you would actually say in that scenario.”

Planners are still reviewing proposals by hand, but planners are putting more emphasis on using the tool when possible. 

“I definitely see uses for it in the future,” Chan said. “Right now, we’re definitely working toward that.”

In October, Altamonte Springs was the first city in the country to use AI for developer reviews. Next came Pasco County, making them the only two government jurisdictions in Florida to employ the technology until Gainesville joined them this month. Nawari said both municipalities have given good feedback. 

Nawari said he anticipates more cities to start using this technology in the future. He added that AutoReview.AI has also incurred interest from cities in Texas and California. He attributes the interest to the company’s primary goal: increased efficiency. 

“Everyone wins by reducing time.”

Bailey is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing