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

Infrastructure Problem: One of Many Assets Needing Attention

In 2011 the USA rated a grade of D+ on Infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers, citing a need for a $3.6 TRILLION investment by 2020.  Despite one of America’s favorite comedians,  John Oliver, using comedy to call attention to this infrastructure problem on national television, not much is changing.  Nor is 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

Boston Trains Face Infrastructure Finance Challenge

John D. Macomber, Harvard Business School lecturer and construction finance expert addresses the long term challenge of infrastructure finance in the context of the short term public transit crisis facing the city of Boston  and the MBTA in the city’s snowiest Boston winter on record… so far. The MBTA faces the same problems that confront every… 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

The Future of Digital Services: Five Trends Transforming Government

Government is often perceived as being behind the digital innovation curve, taking significantly longer to adopt web-based solutions than the private sector, with less enthusiasm and less skill. But in recent years, federal, state, and local agencies are challenging that perception. Creating and optimizing digital services has become a top priority for government.The pressures forcing… Read More

New Evidence Shows Citizen Engagement Increases Tax Revenues

Evidence continues to show that citizen engagement, citizens participating in public policy issues, leads to increased tax compliance  and higher tax revenues.  Quite a while ago, drawing mainly from the literature on tax morale, Tiago Peixoto at DemocracySpot posted about the evidence on the relationship between citizen engagement and tax revenues.  As a side note, he is still… Read More

Boston Olympics Needs Infrastructure, How About the HYPERLOOP

Boston is divided about the possibility of hosting the Summer Olympics in 2024.  Public concerns fall into three categories : How much will it cost?  Will it distract from other priorities?  What do we get out of this deal?  The cost estimates range from $5 b with no cost from the citizenry to $20 b. … 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

Software for Cities: Know your Problems Before Purchasing

Cities buy software but are cities really getting the problem solving value from that software?  Understanding the value of the huge amounts of data now available and designing the software and databases to yield solutions to difficult problems through predictive analysis of the data leads into the next generation in city software. For hundreds of… 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