2024 Guide to Code Enforcement Conferences

Happy code enforcement conference season! February kicks off a number of code enforcement conferences and industry expos around the country. Trade shows and industry or professional conferences are great opportunities to connect, learn, and adapt to the ever-changing environment of code enforcement. Every year, there are new technological advancements, new regulations, new research on human behavior, and community development. It is a lot to keep track of alone. Smart cities are cities that intentionally develop human social connections as well as leverage technology to enhance the livability of a city. In this blog post, we discuss the industry expos and conferences we are most excited about and how you can make the most of them.

Why Attend In-Person Events

Trade shows, industry expos, and professional development conferences are great ways to enhance your professional network and gain insights into the latest best practices and code changes. Code Enforcement is one of the most interdisciplinary fields in municipal government: Code enforcement officers operate at the intersection of community economic development, social behavior, criminology and criminal justice, and infrastructure/architecture. Each one of these areas has significant and impactful developments every year. Tradeshows, conferences, and industry expos are where developments are demonstrated to the public. In-person events allow you to interact and ask questions, think through use cases for your city, and talk with folks implementing the technology or best practices in their city. These cross-municipal connections are among the best ways to develop mentorship relationships, especially for individuals new to code enforcement.

Prioritizing Learning Objectives & Justifying Professional Development Budgets

The interdisciplinary approach to code enforcement activities means no shortage of opportunities! When selecting the events you or your code enforcement officers will attend, start with your budget. The budget for professional development may be one of the largest limiting factors, so you don’t want to find an amazing opportunity only to be told that your department can’t afford to send anyone. If your code enforcement department doesn’t have a budget for professional development or the professional development budget doesn’t include conferences, trade shows, or expos, gathering information on the expected costs and benefits to your municipality can be a great way to start the conversation with the city council or the city finance department.

Develop departmental goals

Once you have the budget figured out, decide on your goals for your code enforcement officers. Engage your code enforcement officers in this activity by asking them about their professional development goals and where they see their own skills lacking. Remember that asking your code enforcement officers to share their weaknesses is inherently vulnerable and will require a degree of psychological safety. You may want to solicit this by an anonymous survey or frame the question in more general terms.

Sample survey questions

Here are some questions to include on a survey:

  • What are the top 3 skills you need to develop or improve to advance your career in code enforcement?
  • What are the biggest gaps in our code enforcement department’s abilities?
  • What is the one thing we can do or change that will have the biggest impact on our department’s ability to serve the public?
  • Pretend you are at the end of your career in code enforcement, talking to your younger self. What one piece of advice would you give yourself regarding professional development?
  • What technology or processes do you have the most trouble with?
  • What processes, technology, or other aspects of your job cause you the most stress or dread when thinking about your code enforcement activities?
  • What tasks or activities do you tend to avoid or dread?

Try to keep the survey short. Limit the number of questions to 3-5, and ask your code enforcement officers to spend no more than 15 minutes filling out the survey. When analyzing the results, ask yourself “why” to understand the root causes of issues reported by your code enforcement officers.

Using data to create goals

In addition to asking your code enforcement officers directly, consider the data you can access. You can dig into the data from 311 calls or recent code enforcement cases that were difficult to resolve. Can you find trends in the type of requests or how they are handled?

Gathering data from 311 calls, code enforcement tickets, and your code enforcement officers will help you further justify professional development budget increases. Professional development opportunities can help officers understand their potential advancement path, reducing staff turnover. Talk to your HR department about the annual expenses for recruiting, hiring, onboarding, disciplining, offboarding, and firing code enforcement officers. These cost savings can be added to justify a budget increase for professional development.

Picking An Event

As the code enforcement department head, you probably already have a set of priorities for your staff. If possible, find events that satisfy your and your officers’ interests and priorities. If your decision significantly differs from the feedback and suggestions from your officers, you can now explain why you’ve selected a priority that differs from their requests and why it is more urgently important than theirs. You have the big picture in mind and can help your officers contextualize the priority in the larger context. This will also help you support your officers in personal professional development planning and identify smaller opportunities, like online webinars, demos, or classes, for your officers to gain the skills necessary to advance their careers. This will also help build trust in your department and increase the leadership capabilities of your staff to take ownership of their professional development.

Start with the end in mind

Finding professional development opportunities such as conferences, trade shows, and expos can be an overwhelming task. An internet search will lead you to hundreds of opportunities around the world. To narrow down your search, start with the end in mind. List the top priority for your code enforcement department and do a targeted search for opportunities that align with that priority. For example, if conflict resolution or de-escalation is a top priority, check out your local or federal opportunities for Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) or situational awareness training.

Next, consider the location. The location or distance to the opportunity can have a big impact on the budget. Travel and accommodations will be minimal if an opportunity is local or online. However, even larger state conferences, like the 39th Code Enforcement Association of Texas event earlier this month, may require travel and accommodation. However, these state-specific conferences are a great way to network with code enforcement officers operating under similar municipal codes. Naturally, enforcement codes differ across municipal lines and vary greatly between urban and rural environments. However, the state codes that are usually the foundation of municipal codes will be the same. This will provide a baseline to discuss the nuanced implementation and municipal differences.

National code enforcement events tend to focus on International Code Council (ICC) and American Association of Code Enforcement (AACE) updates. In contrast, state-specific conferences focus more on local and state code updates.

No time to attend an in-person conference or trade show? Learn about City Detect’s advanced technology in code enforcement. Connect with us here.

National & Regional Conferences

State Specific Conferences

In addition to these national conferences, here are state-specific conferences and associations.

Winter and spring state conferences

Summer and fall state conferences

State Associations for Code Enforcement Officers

In addition to state association conferences and training events, the following associations support code enforcement officials through training, continuing education, and networking opportunities:

Industry Expos

World of Concrete

World of Concrete is the industry’s ONLY annual international event dedicated to commercial concrete and masonry construction industries. Featuring indoor and outdoor exhibits with the industry’s leading suppliers showcasing innovative products and technologies, exciting demonstrations and competitions and world-class education program.”


WasteExpo is North America’s largest solid waste, recycling, organics, food waste recovery,  and sustainability tradeshow serving both the private and public sectors for over 50 years.

“Serving over 90,000 individuals, Waste360 provides daily updates to executives, owners, government officials, waste haulers, and waste generators and plays a critical role in connecting industry professionals worldwide.”

Smart Cities Connect

Smart Cities Connect is where the smart cities community meets. We provide meaningful content and connect a thoughtful community of decision-makers to empower smart cities at all stages of growth. We accelerate the adoption of smart technology solutions, aid in problem solving, and amplify city resources for the betterment of cities, communities, and their citizens. Smart Cities Connect presents relevant news covering digital transformation, urban operations, urban infrastructure, mobility, community engagement, policy, and governance.”

Build Expo USA

Build Expo USA holds eight events annually across the US, spotlighting thousands of products and services ranging from acoustic materials to windows. The events have talks by thought leaders in building, contracting, and support services.

Government Technology

Government Technology specializes in the intersection of technology and government operations, focusing on areas such as cybersecurity, digital infrastructure, smart cities, and civic innovation. Their events cover a broad spectrum of topics, including the latest in technological advancements to enhance municipal services, data analytics for improved decision-making, and digital strategies for code enforcement efficiency. These gatherings are essential for municipal code enforcement officers seeking to leverage technology for more effective and efficient public service delivery.

2024 P3C Conference

The 2024 Public-Private Partnership Conference & Industry Expo is “the annual infrastructure conference where public officials and private industry collaborate on alternative project delivery methods to more efficiently build, finance and maintain America’s essential infrastructure.” This annual conference hosts educational talks on financing infrastructure projects, risk allocation, creating roadmaps for project delivery with partners, and more.

NIJ 2024 Research Conference

The National Institute of Justice 2024 Research Conference brings “researchers, practitioners, and policymakers together to discuss the latest research evidence and how it can be implemented to promote safety, equity, and justice for all.”

ASPA’s Annual Conference

American Society for Public Administration’s Annual Conference “is the premier event of the profession, taking place each spring as it brings together a cross-section of public administration including public servants, nonprofit professionals, researchers, scholars, students and more.” This conference is focused on building resilient leaders to build resilient communities. The six theme areas this year include

  • Good Governance and Democratic Resilience
  • Social Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Innovative Human Resource Management
  • Environmental Management and Effective Technology
  • Emergency Preparedness, Public Health and Disaster Response
  • Global and Comparative Perspectives

SGR’s 2025 Servant Leadership Conference

The Servant Leadership Conference “provides a unique opportunity to learn and network with other local government professionals who are committed to leading with a servant’s heart. This annual conference typically includes keynote speakers, panel discussions, and interactive sessions focusing on servant leadership principles and application in various industries and contexts.”

Making the Most of Industry Expos

State code enforcement and building inspector association conferences and seminars have an obvious ROI: continuing education units, career-advancing networking, certifications, code updates, etc. Making the most of industry expos and regional or national code enforcement requires an intentional and systematic approach.

Start with the end in mind

How can you afford to take 3 days off for a conference when there is a constant stream of work to barely manage in the 8+ hours of your regular work day?! Unfortunately, code violations don’t wait for you to catch your breath after a conference. More likely than not, you’ll have a stack of 311 calls, a full inbox, and whatever work was left unfinished when the conference started. This can feel punishing.

Picture a different future. Picture walking into your office and your colleague’s face light up with the sustained energy gained from the conference. You’ve connected with the community, learned new things, reconnected with your purpose, saw a career path, and built relationships with mentors. On top of these oxytocin-enabling experiences, you have data to demonstrate that this experience will have a measurable impact on your department’s performance.

Your ideal post-conference experience may look slightly different but much of the preparation is the same…and it all starts with having a clearly articulated vision of post-conference life back in the office or the field.

Create SMART Goals

SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Having your code enforcement officers create 3-5 SMART goals will greatly improve your ability to report on the return on the time and financial investment of attending a conference, tradeshow, or industry expo. Based on the event you choose to attend, you should develop theme areas for your officers to help them establish SMART goals. Here are examples of themes and SMART goals:

1. Sample Theme: Safety & De-Escalation

  • Learn three new techniques for de-escalating tense situations at a national conference, and successfully implement them during field inspections within the next six months, evaluating their effectiveness through feedback from community members and colleagues.
  • Attend a session on personal safety, and implement a new safety protocol for field inspections within the next four months, aiming to reduce workplace incidents by at least 30%.

2. Sample Theme: Communication & Leadership

  • Participate in a communications workshop to learn best practices for effective public speaking and community engagement, and conduct at least two public information sessions on code compliance within three months, aiming to improve public participation rates by 20%.
  • Participate in a session on building trust within communities through transparency and accountability in code enforcement, and launch a quarterly open forum with residents within four months, aiming to increase positive feedback by 20%.
  • Learn leadership skills through a dedicated leadership track for code enforcement professionals at a national conference, aiming to apply these skills to lead a team project that enhances department efficiency, with a project completion goal within nine months.
  • Join a roundtable on using social media and digital platforms for effective code enforcement communication at a conference, and implement a new digital communication strategy for our department within three months, aiming for a 30% increase in community engagement on our platforms.

3. Sample Theme: Legal Updates

  • Acquire detailed knowledge of the latest municipal zoning code changes relevant to our jurisdiction by attending two sessions focused on zoning laws at a regional conference and updating the department’s compliance guidelines within one month of attendance.

4. Sample Theme: Technology & Processes to Improve Efficiency

  • Explore the latest technology tools for code enforcement at a conference exhibit, select one for trial in our department, and fully deploy this technology within six months, aiming to improve inspection efficiency by 25%.
  • Attend a workshop on advanced time management strategies for code enforcement professionals, and apply learned techniques to reorganize the department’s inspection schedule within two months, targeting a 15% increase in inspections completed on time.
  • Engage in a peer-led session on innovative approaches to code enforcement, aiming to collaborate with at least two other municipalities on a joint initiative within the next year, focusing on shared challenges in urban development and zoning compliance.

Once your officers develop their SMART goals, review them together to ensure they align with the current weaknesses of the department and are appropriate for your municipal context. Make sure your officers print out and bring their SMART goals with them to the conference. These printouts will provide a template for your officers to take notes to report on their progress easily.

Stay organized

Conferences and expos can often lead to information overload. Taking notes and keeping contacts organized is critical to the long-term impact of conferences. Taking hand-written notes is shown to increase memory recall of the information. However, hand-written notes can be illegible, lost, or tarnished by coffee spills. Computer or tablet notes can often be more immediately sharable, sortable, and organized, but research suggests that typed notes don’t have the same impact on memory. Regardless of the format, here is a template you may want to use for taking notes on conference sessions:

Conference Seminar Note-Taking Template

Seminar Information

  • Title of Seminar:
  • Date & Time:
  • Location:
  • Speaker(s):
  • Seminar Objective/SMART Goal:

Key Concepts & Ideas

  • Main Topics Covered:
    • Topic 1:
      • Key Points:
    • Topic 2:
      • Key Points:
    • Topic 3:
      • Key Points:
    • (Continue as needed)

Important Data & Statistics

  • Relevant Data Shared:
    • Data Point 1:
    • Data Point 2:
    • (Continue as needed)

Practical Techniques & Tools

  • Techniques Learned:
    • Technique 1:
      • Application:
    • Technique 2:
      • Application:
    • (Continue as needed)
  • Tools Discussed:
    • Tool 1:
      • Purpose:
    • Tool 2:
      • Purpose:
    • (Continue as needed)

Questions & Answers

  • Question Asked:
    • Speaker’s Response:
  • (Repeat as needed for multiple questions)

Actionable Insights

  • Insights to Implement:
    • Insight 1:
      • Implementation Plan:
    • Insight 2:
      • Implementation Plan:
    • (Continue as needed)

Reflections & Personal Takeaways

  • My Key Takeaways:
  • Potential Challenges:
  • Opportunities for Application in My Work:

Follow-Up Actions

  • People to Connect With: (Name, Contact Information, Reason)
  • Materials to Review: (Reports, Studies, Tools)
  • Skills to Develop Further:
  • Seminars/Webinars to Attend for Deeper Understanding:

Additional Notes

  • Miscellaneous Information:
  • Ideas for Team Sharing/Training:

In addition to the information gained in seminars and panels, you are likely to meet lots of interesting people! Staying organized with the business cards you collect will help you build and maintain long-term relationships. I’ll be the first to admit that this is easier said than done. However, you’ll gain exponential benefits even if you put only some of these actions into place.

Organize business cards and contacts into three categories:

Something to give

These are folks you want to follow up with because you have a process, best practice, advice, etc that can help their department or career.

Something to get

These are folks that you want to follow up with because they can help you reach or have provided information that will directly impact one of your SMART goals for the conference.

Interesting, but not immediately relevant

These folks don’t quite fit into the first two categories but have potential for friendship and comradery or may have insights into one of your non-conference goals. For example, if your conference goals relate to leadership and communication, you may meet folks with interesting expertise that will benefit other areas of your career (and vice versa). They are still good to keep in touch with but don’t require immediate follow-up.

Leverage technology

Speaking from personal experience, you will likely reflect on your conference experience through blurry photos of unnamed, extremely interesting, and happy people and a stack of bent-cornered business cards. Unfortunately, following up with contacts from these photos by zooming in on name badges doesn’t work because they are too blurry or turned around. Here is how to avoid these missed opportunities to create meaningful and long-lasting connections.

  1. Use a business card scanning app like Haystack or BizConnect
  2. Create an album on your phone for conference photos.
  3. Create a contacts list for conference contacts
  4. Draft follow-up emails in advance

Measuring ROI from Industry Expos

Measuring the return on investment can be tricky, but if you put a few minutes into creating SMART goals up front, you already have the framework to explore the return on your investment. Get copies of your officer’s notes and create a cadence of follow-up with your officers to track their progress on each SMART goal.

Pro tip: Work with each officer to develop a dashboard or meter to track the outcomes of their goals. Make the dashboard visible to your office so the whole department can celebrate progress and support the goals that may be lagging. Here are some examples of dashboards or progress meters:


Attending conferences and industry expos can be fun and have a huge return on investment for your code enforcement department. You and your officers can connect with mentors, learn best practices, share knowledge, and gain insights into new technologies and processes. Code enforcement conferences tend to be geographic (state or region-specific). In contrast, industry expos and trade shows tend to center around a theme or topic such as justice, technology, or leadership.

Without a structured approach, it is hard to justify the actual return on the time and resource investment. Furthermore, with increasingly tight budgets, scarce resources, and overworked staff, taking time away from core code enforcement activities can leave code enforcement officers feeling punished when they arrive back at the office. Set your department up for success using the templates and best practices listed above to clearly articulate and justify the return on investment that conferences can bring to your department and municipality.

Katherine Zobre

Katherine Zobre has ten years of professional grant writing experience working in Economic Development. She has experience with international, federal, local, and nonprofit grants. She also works with economic development agencies to create innovative programs to support equitable growth and support to underserved communities. She has an MS in International Development Studies from The University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Maryland. Katherine has lived, worked, and volunteered in 11 countries across 5 continents.