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First POST: This Town

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersIs Washington too obsessed with itself to gauge public opinion on Syria correctly?; Al Gore's incredibly shrinking climate change group; and the best executive director monthly report you've ever seen; plus much, much more. Read More

New Study Looks Under Hood of Boston's New Urban Mechanics

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, August 9 2013

Boston’s office of New Urban Mechanics is a model for other cities looking to provide more and better service with less cash. By taking advantage of mobile technologies, bridging long siloed departments, and engaging civic minded tech entrepreneurs and academics, the department, under the direction of Mayor Thomas Menino has had its hand in an array of projects in the past years, from figuring out how to repurpose 19th century fire boxes for the digital age, to testing online games to inform city planning. A list of projects doesn’t really get at what actually makes New Urban Mechanics tick but a new case study from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society just might. Read More

Boston's Office Of New Urban Mechanics Hires First In-House Developer

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, October 5 2012

Boston's office of New Urban Mechanics is hiring former Code for America Fellow Michael Evans as its first in-house developer as it seeks to build out a team of "civic technologists." Evans, 32, starts his new job in ... Read More

What is "New Urban Mechanics" and Why Does Philadelphia Want Some?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 3 2012

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced on Monday that Philadelphia will get a new arm of city government called the Office of New Urban Mechanics, he was signing on to a sizable experiment in how government is supposed to work.

Nutter's administration is emulating a program Boston City Hall put in place two years ago to find innovative — you might also say "untested" — ideas and see if they can make government work better. The Boston Office of New Urban Mechanics is just a handful of people led by Nigel Jacob, a former programmer, and Chris Osgood, a city official who came to Boston after a stint at New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation. Their job is to help those new solutions to old problems navigate the often tricky hallways of city bureaucracy.

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Philadelphia Mayor Launches a New Office for Innovation, Taking a Cue from Boston

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, October 2 2012

Inspired by Boston, the city of Philadelphia is establishing its own Office of New Urban Mechanics, said the city's Mayor Michael Nutter late Monday at the Code for America Summit.

"New Urban Mechanics Philadelphia is a nimble and entrepreneurial government outfit," Nutter said during a Monday afternoon speech in San Francisco. "It is piloting and prototyping small innovative projects in the civic space, which along with efforts of individuals across multiple city departments, will better enable our city to sustain a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial approaches to problem-solving."

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'Through the Wall:' Code for America, One Year On

BY Nick Judd | Monday, October 17 2011

Image courtesy Code for America

Code for America launched last year to see if coding talent and information-technology knowledge could help big municipal governments make their cities better without spending a whole lot of money, modernizing city hall ... Read More

Chicago CTO Says Senior Municipal Staff are Changing the Way Cities Work

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, June 28 2011

Chicago at night. Photo: Rhys Asplundh / Flickr Mayors across the United States are tasking senior staffers with changing the way their cities work, Chicago Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said during an interview ... Read More

In Boston, City Hall Pursues Innovation In-House

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, April 21 2011

Nigel Jacob, co-chair of the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics. Photo: Nick Judd / techPresident

Cities across the country seek to lay the groundwork for innovative third parties to build on, based on the premise that city government is too inflexible or narrow-minded to be the best host for ground-breaking work. ... Read More