Why Building Permit Data Matters to Cities

Building permit data can reveal a lot about a city or community. Places with fast-growing economies tend to have a higher demand for construction (particularly residential construction). Overall, building permits—especially when combined with building permit value data—are extremely useful in estimating (and even projecting) city growth and change, including student growth rates, job counts, population growth, and overall economic well being.

Building permit value data reveals how much a building permit is worth. For example, one building permit could be worth $300,000 for a single-family home, while a building permit for an apartment complex could be worth several million. These kinds of distinctions are vital for measuring and forecasting actual city growth. 

For these reasons, mySidewalk recently added building permit and building permit value data to the tool. Now you can gather this data for your own city—and use it to find places of high growth as well as places that haven’t grown much in recent years. This information can help planners and economic development professionals estimate city growth and plan for upcoming population influxes; likewise, it can help them pinpoint stagnant areas that may need an economic boost to keep up with other, faster-growing locations.

Below is a map showing building permit growth in Kansas City, Missouri. The map shows both the 2010-2014 building permit data and the 2010-2014 building permit value data for the area. In the toolbar on the left is a chart specifically showing residential permit data from 2005-2014. You can use your mouse to interact with the map.

Here we can see that zip code 64157 has seen a significant increase in building permit data, building permit value data, as well as in those permits that are specifically residential. This information would be useful to a city planner or economist, or even to businesses looking to move to the area. This map shows which areas are seeing significant growth, which can be a good indicator of a flourishing business economy.

mySidewalk has building permit data and building permit value data for select cities across the U.S. If you’re a mySidewalk customer, hop into the tool and try it out for yourself! You might be surprised at what you find.

Interested to learn more about how mySidewalk can help you make sense of city data? Head over to our resources page and watch the recorded Affordable Housing webinar. Join us as we discuss how to pinpoint areas that have benefited from affordable housing, as well as those areas that still need help. Interested? Check out the webinar here.


mySidewalk is a city intelligence tool that helps analysts track, analyze, and communicate progress on department and citywide goals. Our mission is to empower city leaders and the public with the most complete, clear, and real-time understanding of community data so they can improve and innovate together. You work hard for your data. What’s it doing for you?

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Lauren French has worked in the tech world as a marketing and content professional for the past two years. She earned a master’s degree in public relations from Michigan State University and holds an English degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. When she’s not thinking about marketing and content creation, Lauren enjoys binge-watching Netflix shows and drinking as much coffee as possible. She is also over-the-top obsessed with her two dogs, Hutch and Marty.