“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 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.
Each 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.
2014 Annual Report of the Office of the Government Innovation Officer (OGIO) posted on Dec 23
This past year has been quite an active one as we have made great progress advancing our innovation agenda within Massachusetts state government. Highlights include: Launched a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Innovation Fellows (CMIF) Program to nurture and grow a culture of innovation among Commonwealth employees …Continue Reading 2014 Annual Report of the Office of the Government Innovation Officer (OGIO)
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Launches Its Municipal Grant Finder posted on Dec 3
Local officials in city and town governments interact with the Commonwealth every day on a variety of matters – from accessing resources to understanding obligations and regulations. Sometimes, local officials know which persons, programs or agencies to contact at the state level to access the …Continue Reading The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Launches Its Municipal Grant Finder
The Road to Open Data posted on Nov 24
The topic of Open Data is gaining significant coverage in government news. So amongst the buzz, the Commonwealth and the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) held an open discussion to hear thoughts from the public. According to The Open Data Handbook, “open data is data …Continue Reading The Road to Open Data