Post Content

“Tree limb snapped, hanging on phone wires,” “Pedestrian street signs are down,” and “Pothole on Smith St” are common concerns reported each day to local governments across the United States.  But instead of a requiring a phone call, a letter, or an in-person trip, these reports were made directly to the correct City of Boston office through a smartphone app called Citizens Connect.

Created in 2009 through a partnership between the City of Boston and a local developer, the app allows Citizens Connect residents  to take pictures of issues encountered and immediately report them to their local governments for quicker resolution.  Throughout the process, residents track the status of their request.  Since the program launched three years ago, nearly 20% of all resident requests are submitted through Citizens Connect.

In 2012, the Community Innovation Challenge (CIC) grant program awarded $400, 000 to the City of Boston to expand the app to up to 35 other communities across Massachusetts.  The city and the Commonwealth partnered to run a competitive process, held four information sessions across Massachusetts, and received applications from 58 municipalities.  The 19 towns and 16 cities selected, including 10 Gateway Cities, are composed of 1.2 million residents, or 18% of Massachusetts’ population. This grant will establish the Citizens Connect app in communities ranging in size from Brookfield (population 3,390) to New Bedford (95,072).

This expansion exemplifies the Government Innovation Officer’s mission to identify and implement innovative solutions, which can reduce costs and improve access to government services; to leverage the power of social networks, which can allow every resident to play an active role in their communities; and, to catch up with our increasingly mobile society, which allows the Commonwealth and its municipalities to achieve efficiencies through strategic use of technology.

Citizens connect2Each Commonwealth Citizens Connect community will receive support from the respective city and from a selected vendor as they work to develop the app and the work-order system.  Each app will be customized to the municipality’s “branding” and will include up to 10 community-specified categories, like “potholes.”

Participating communities include:  Ayer, Barnstable, Braintree, Brookfield, Chicopee, Clarksburg, Easton, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Halifax, Haverhill, Holliston, Lexington, Malden, Medway, Melrose, Middleborough, Nantucket, Needham, New Bedford, Newton, North Adams, North Andover, Northampton, Orange, Revere, Somerville, Taunton, Wakefield, West Boylston, Westborough, Whitman, Watertown and Woburn.

Citizens are our cities’ “eyes and ears.”  Soon, the residents of these communities can alert local officials about a range of quality-of-life issues — and witness their concerns quickly turning into action and resolution.

Download Boston’s Citizens Connect App via iTunes or Android today.  And, stay tuned for the availability of your town’s Commonwealth Citizens Connect App!

Written By:


Since November, 2011, Tim Dodd has worked as the Local Government Program Manager in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance (A&F). In this capacity, Tim manages all aspects of the Community Innovation Challenge (CIC) grant program. Tim also manages two county government grant programs, a municipal performance management program, and is part of the Commonwealth Performance, Accountability, and Transparency (CPAT) office.

Before coming to A&F, Tim taught for five years and since 2007 has served as an elected member of the Board of Selectmen in his hometown of Westborough. He earned a B.A. in history and political science from American University, an M.A. in history from Providence College, and a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Winners of Mass EduData Challenge Announced posted on Jul 30

Winners of Mass EduData Challenge Announced

  The Mass EduData Challenge, a multi-week open data competition, revealed the competition winners at an Award Ceremony on Tuesday, July 15th at hack/reduce in Cambridge, MA. The education-centered civic hacking competition challenged participants to create valuable insights by leveraging anonymized public data sets maintained   …Continue Reading Winners of Mass EduData Challenge Announced

Mass EduData Challenge Marks its Third Week posted on Jun 24

Mass EduData Challenge Marks its Third Week

The Mass EduData Challenge, an education-centered civic data challenge, just completed its third week. Since the May 28th launch at Cambridge hacker space, hack/reduce the challenge has seen a steady increase in participants. The goal of the challenge participants is to enhance educational tools and   …Continue Reading Mass EduData Challenge Marks its Third Week

COMMBUYS Provides New Web Platform for Commonwealth Businesses/Government Commerce posted on Jun 23

COMMBUYS Provides New Web Platform for Commonwealth Businesses/Government Commerce

In 1997, a new web-based bid solicitation system called Comm-PASS was launched by the Commonwealth. At the time, it was considered cutting edge. Unfortunately as time progressed, Comm-PASS no longer adequately met customer demand. Accordingly, the Operational Services Division (OSD) sought to create something better.   …Continue Reading COMMBUYS Provides New Web Platform for Commonwealth Businesses/Government Commerce