Schank looks at the pioneering work of the Department of New Urban Mechanics, co-chaired by Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood, which has put Boston on the map as a top digital city due to an approach that "gets users involved throughout the process in a meaningful way, and [results in] apps that work."
One result of this process is Citizens Connect, which "is something like the digital equivalent of listening to a police scanner...Citizens report clogged storm drains, excessive jackhammer noise, illegal trash dumping, and faulty street lights, complete with pictures. Reported cases then go directly into the city's work order queue for resolution, and users are informed how quickly the case will be closed. When cases are resolved the date and time of the resolution is listed, providing users with the sense that the city is on the job."
For Schank, the focus on the user experience is what sets Boston apart from other cities attempting similar initiatives.
"Boston takes a look at what the users are doing, what their needs are, how those needs are currently met by government, and how technology can make all of that better. If only more cities approached digital that way, imagine what that could do for our nation's overall quality of life."