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

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

City Software: From Silos to Platform

By Barbara Thornton. Originally published 9-27-14 as a guest post  in  Sangeet Paul Choudary‘s blog Platform Thinking, The New Rules of Business in a Networked World.  This post leverages the Magnet – Tools & Rules – Data framework that Choudary first alluded to in a Harvard Business Review article here.  In this post, Barbara uses this Platform Thinking… Read More

Feds Offer Bigger Playbook for Guiding Government Managers into Digital Era

On August 3, 2014 AssetStewardship.com posted Top 10 Tasks Required For Cities Acquiring Digital Software to help remedy the dearth of guidelines for municipalities investing in IT.  Not to be outdone, the federal government, on August 12, 2014, launched the U.S. Digital Service and presented a Digital Services Playbook.  We like this a lot.  There is a… Read More

Boston New Urban Mechanics Office Leads Civic Tech Implementation

Boston, the “City on a Hill”,  prides itself as a thought leader on topics of philosophy (transcendentalism), political theory (John Adams, Declaration of Independence) and public policy (Boston’s implementation of the 1965 Racial Imbalance Act) for over 300 years.  Clearly the City of Boston hasn’t always got it right. But the City gets big credit for… Read More

Re-Phrase the Declaration of Independence to Find Its Power for the 21st Century

Following the recommendation of a friend to read the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, I struggled through the antiquated sentence structure, nouns and verbs to excavate the power of our forefathers’ anger, vision and intent in declaring their separation from a tyrant King who they claimed had usurped their basic rights as… Read More

Open Governments, Open Data: A New Lever for Transparency

Citizen Engagement, and Economic Growth Posted on June 26, 2014 by Stefaan Verhulst in GovLab Digest Joel Gurin at the SAIS Review of International Affairs: “The international open data movement is beginning to have an impact on government policy, business strategy, and economic development. Roughly sixty countries in the Open Government Partnership have committed to… Read More

Detroit: Whither Thou Goest, So Goest US?

Whether it is with despair, empathy or schadenfreude, the nation watches one of it’s premier cities falter through corruption, decay and population decline, fail through bankruptcy and moved toward a hoped for renewal.  An early price tag for the physical restructuring of the city was just presented by the Obama appointed Detroit Blight Removal Task Force.  The… Read More

National Hackathon Offers New Fixes for Urban Problems

The second annual national “Civic Hacking” event, May 30 – June 1, brings together participants from the fields of software development, design, research, non-profits, local government and more to use their skills to solve civic challenges.  Civic Hacking events are scheduled in over 122 locations across the U.S.  and beyond.  Sponsored by Intel, this is a… Read More

Gas Leak Explosion Symbolizes Huge Need for Infrastructure Improvements

Gas leaks resulted in an explosion causing two buildings in East Harlem, NYC to collapse on March 12, 2014.  Eight deaths and a substantial destruction of property catch the public attention this week, suggesting an even larger long smoldering issue of inadequate investment in the infrastructure we build our lives on and take for granted.… Read More