2015 Digital Cities: Winners Experiment with Forward-Thinking Tech Projects

 “The 2015 Digital Cities Survey results are in. Dozens of cities were selected by a judging panel at the Center for Digital Government as the most strategic, efficient and innovative guardians of public-sector tech in the nation. The top-ranked cities will received an award in recognition of their achievements on Nov. 5 at the annual National… Read More

Creating a Facilities Maintenance Department: Arlington Case Study

In Spring 2015, Arlington’s legislative body voted to approve the establishment of a new department to oversee Facilities Maintenance.  Ruth Bennett, Architect, was hired in August, 2015 to head the new department.  The process of establishing the department was the result of recommendations from the Capital Planning Committee to the Board of Selectman who established… Read More

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

Global City Challenge 2016 Registration

Initial teambuilding workshops for the next round of the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) will take place November 12-13, 2015, at NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., campus. Registration for the workshop is open. Please use this link to register:http://www.nist.gov/cps/global-cities-team-challenge-2015.cfm. An agenda and additional materials related to the November teambuilding workshop are forthcoming. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s… 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

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