Antiquated Procurement Process Blocks Cities from Digital Age

From the perspective of a city trying to move operations into the digital age, software often seems overpriced, inflexible, and more complicated than flying a jet, with no clear measurable return on investment either in cost savings or improved service delivery.  From the perspective of the software provider who is big enough and smart enough… Read More

Drinking Water Infrastructure Choice: Infrastructure and Policy vs Mad Max

Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend on polluted water sources for their daily drinking water.  Over half of the planet’s population lives in cities.  Large cities, alone, represent   $21.8 trillion (US$) in economic activity, or 48 percent of global GDP *.   As the population in cities continues to grow, without… Read More

Infrastructure: John Oliver Explains it All (HBO)

So you don’t think infrastructure can be fun? Watch comedian John Oliver explain its intricate, critically important, hilarious fascinations in this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpzvaqypav8 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Infrastructure (HBO) Infrastructure investment will save lives.   Also, from:  CEO FORUM GROUP: “Infrastructure refers to the large-scale public systems, services, and facilities of a country… Read More

White House Announces $160MM “Smart Cities” Initiative

The Obama administration, in conjunction with the Smart Cities Council Annual Meeting, on Sept. 14, announced $160mm in federal research, grants and collaborations to help local communities manage major challenges using 21st century tools. As part of the initiative, the Administration is announcing: More than $35 million in new grants and over $10 million in proposed… Read More

Open Data Standards Affect City Spending Decisions

City decision makers should consider the new federal “open data” standards before building their own digital infrastructure. The DATA Act 2014  requires the Department of the Treasury and the White House Office of Management and Budget to transform U.S.federal spending from disconnected, hard to find documents into open, standardized data, and to publish that data online.… Read More

Fate of Boston’s Failed 2024 Olympics Bid – Determined in 1822

Boston is no longer in the running for the 2024 Summer Olympics.  While the City convulses in streams of joy and sorry, the question “what went wrong” emerges.  The answer to that question may go back to 1822 when the city was incorporated, over 200 years before the Olympics would have happened.  Or maybe the… Read More

Olympics 2024 – Proxy for a Real Boston Master Plan Process

Don’t pick the fruit until it’s ripe.  That was one of the more profound lessons learned from my favorite Capital Finance professor.  The people of Boston, contemplating a decision about whether or not the city should host the Olympics in 2024 would be wise to take this lesson to heart. The City of Boston, with… Read More

Improve City Services with Innovation, Technology

(excerpt from:  Using Innovation and Technology to Improve City Services) Cities are increasingly becoming the public sector service delivery engines in the United States. They have heard a call to action: residents expect cities to find ways to improve services.  And cities are gearing up to do so. City governments, residents, and interest groups are… Read More

Five Elements of City Performance Improvement

The City of Carlton, Oregon engaged a team to establish a performance management approach that improves Carlton City government results. Under the new approach, the City would continually focus on its mission and goals and use performance information in management and policy decision-making. A results-oriented focus would permeate the City government’s strategic planning, budgeting, measuring,… Read More

Gas Leaks Threaten Public Health, Time to Fix Pipes

(Could this be a job for Big Data, Citizen Journalists and Hackers?) Not only is the greater Boston region losing about $90 million a year from its old cast iron pipeline system, but these leaks, comprised primarily of methane which has 72 times the potent heat trapping effect on atmospheric warming as carbon dioxide, contribute… Read More

Public Buildings & Services: How Much Does Municipality Need?

Article 8 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton Town buildings, both school and municipal, comprise 1.3 million square feet of building space.  That is a lot of property to maintain.  And it doesn’t include the Town’s open space, parks and fields.   Some properties key to the town’s… Read More

Arlington History Preserved In New Master Plan

Article 7 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton (https://assetstewardship.com/about-assetstewardship/barbara-thornton-bio/) Reminders of Arlington’s Revolutionary War history are scattered throughout the town.  The town, first inhabited by the Algonquian group of Native Americans, then settled by European colonists in 1635 and incorporated in 1807, took its current name in… Read More

Master Plan to Preserve Open Space & Natural Resources for Future

Article 6 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton (https://assetstewardship.com/about-assetstewardship/barbara-thornton-bio/) Arlington residents value the town’s walkability, woodlands and water vistas and tree lined streets.  It will require careful Town policy and citizen advocacy to preserve these valuable assets for the future.  The Master Plan, now in draft form… Read More

Housing Choices Shape Affordability and Vitality of Town Future

Article 5 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton The Master Plan will have a distinct section focusing on housing and in Arlington there will be much to decide.  Housing prices in Arlington are among the fastest rising in the region.  According to a recent article in the… Read More

Arlington Master Plan Considers Economic Development

Article 4 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.  Prepared by Barbara Thornton  Most of Arlington’s budget depends on the Town’s tax base. As the cost of services increases, the Town budget must increase. Massachusetts communities are limited in their ability to increase taxes on existing property. Many municipalities have developable land… Read More

Traffic and Transportation Issues Shape Arlington Future

Article 3 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.  Prepared by Barbara Thornton A conversation about transportation issues extends well beyond rush hour car traffic congestion. As the Town contemplates its future 20 years from now, should it build wider streets, wider bike paths, wider sidewalks or none of the above? If… Read More

Arlington Choices for Future Land Use

Article 2 in a series on the Arlington, MA Master Planning process.   Prepared by Barbara Thornton Arlington, relative to other communities in the region, is a densely developed residential suburb with some commercial centers and a variety of interesting, walkable neighborhoods spread over a topography of hills, streams, ponds and flat lands. The Town’s property… Read More

What Is a Master Plan?

Article 1 in a series on the Arlington, MA master planning process. Prepared by Barbara Thornton Arlington, located about 15 miles north west of Boston, is now developing a master plan that will reflect the visions and expectations of the community and will provide enabling steps for the community to move toward this vision over the… Read More

Uncovering State And Local Government: 15 Hidden Successes

October 2, 2014 reported by Stefaan Verhulst in GovLab Digest Emily Jarvis at GovLoop writes: “From garbage trucks to vacant lots, cities and states are often tasked with the thankless job of cleaning up a community’s mess. These are tasks that are often overlooked, but are critical to keeping a community vibrant. But even in these… Read More