Boston Delivers on Digital with Citizens Connect

Hana Schank reports on Boston's Citizens Connect app, and the innovative ways in which the city's Department of New Urban Mechanics is empowering citizens and government employees alike.

April 15, 2012, 7:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


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."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 in Fast Company Co.Exist

View south along Interstate 45 (North Freeway) from the ramp between westbound Interstate 10 and southbound Interstate 45 in Houston, Harris County, Texas

Houston Apartments To Be Demolished for Freeway Widening

Despite a federal hold on the controversial freeway widening project, the Texas Department of Transportation is pushing ahead with the demolition of an apartment complex in downtown Houston.

July 5, 2022 - Houston Chronicle

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Four ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Zoning Reforms

An excerpt from the latest book on zoning argues for four approaches to reform that can immediately improve land use regulation in the United States.

June 26, 2022 - M. Nolan Gray

Car Traffic

San Francisco Just Ended Single-Family Zoning

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to Tuesday to eliminate single-family zoning, but pro-development advocates say additional changes are needed to unleash a wave of construction.

June 29, 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

Street in downtown Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish ADU Ordinance Could Ease Housing Crunch

Recently approved revisions to the city’s accessory dwelling unit regulations prioritize long-term rentals to increase housing affordability for local renters.

July 6 - Whitefish Pilot

20 miles per hour speed limit sign in school zone

San Jose Begins Lowering Speed Limits

Thanks to a state bill, California cities can reduce speed limits on city streets by 5 miles per hour to improve traffic safety.

July 6 - San José Spotlight

University of Arizona

Tucson Development Boom Threatens Displacement of Longtime Residents

Median rent in Tucson rose by 30 percent since a year ago, prompting fears of displacement among many residents struggling to afford housing.

July 6 - Phoenix Business Journal

New Case Study Posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

International Real Estate Strategies and Deal Negotiation

Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.