Saturday, September 11, 2010


I was pleased to have been invited by the International Code Council (ICC) to participate in the ICC Community Coalition Event held in Denver, Colorado during September 8 - 10, 2010. There were about 40 of us including ICC administration, ICC technology staff, ICC website consultants, ICC members who are code officials, architects, engineers, students, builders, and even some non-members. The objective of the meeting was to determine how ICC can better serve its members and the public through its discussion board, website resources, social media and organically creating groups to share their experience and specialized knowledge.

The ICC has realized that there has been a disconnect that developed between active online members and the code council. The old online discussion board which had been well used by the public and membership to answer questions and exchange ideas was taken down. Then another discussion board was brought online that was poorly received due to its integration with "Communities of Interest". On top of that the council's entire website had become cumbersome, difficult to use, hard to search, and unreliable. Active online members went looking elsewhere for discussion boards and found other places to communicate.

Some of us had an inkling that ICC was waking up to the problem when we had been asked to respond to a couple of online surveys that seemed targeted at getting to heart of our discontent. But what an even better gesture when some of us were invited to participate in this event in Denver where we were encouraged to speak freely and the attenders pulled no punches and expressed everything that annoyed them about the ICC's web presence and resources. And ICC staff, in particular Michael Armstrong, SVP of Membership and Outreach Services, were excellent listeners, willing to admit mistakes, and came prepared to show us a preview of ideas they had for improvements. Even better, they accepted constructive criticism of these improvements and made the committment to gradually role out a new discussion board and website features and resources.

Valerie Mach of Web Teks, Inc. very ably moderated most of our discussions. Tom Walker, President of Web Teks, Inc. helped us appreciate some of the more technical aspects of website development. Sanjay Gupta, ICC Chief Information Officer gave us good feedback on our concerns and discussed how the improvements would be sequenced. Michael Armstrong, ICC SVP kept us in touch with the bigger picture and reassured us of ICC's commitment to improving. DaMika Lofton of Web Teks, Inc. was a great host in organizing handouts, travel arrangements, and making the event an enjoyable experience. Kyle Volenik, Web Content Editor for ICC was very enthusiastic about his role in expanding ICC into social networks.

I won't spoil the surprises and don't want to give away too much so I will leave it for ICC to make their formal announcements when they are ready. I wanted to share with my readers that they should look forward to the improvements and be ready to accept a more user-friendly code organization. These changes will help the public appreciate the value of building codes and increase the professionalism of its members.