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Mayor Walsh Names Blue State Digital Co-Founder Boston CIO

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, June 26 2014


Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Wednesday that he was appointing Blue State Digital co-founder Jascha Franklin-Hodge as the city's new Chief Innovation Officer.

Franklin-Hodge, who has been running BSD's Boston office and has served as an advisor to Code for America, oversaw the technology tools that were central to the Obama campaigns, and prior to that ran the Howard Dean campaign's technology team.

Walsh made the announcement with a video celebrating his online engagement through Twitter chats, Facebook chats, a Reddit AMA and his "innovation agenda," including the "Wicked Free Wifi" project, his live city data dashboards inspired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's open data executive order.

The video also shows Walsh sending a "You're hired" message via Snapchat to Franklin-Hodge, who then arrives at Boston City Hall with a bike using Hubway, the Boston-area bike share system.

In an interview with Bostinno, Franklin-Hodge said he looked forward to building on the accomplishments of the Mayor's Office of Urban Mechanics and the open data order. In the interview, he said that the city would be organizing a hackathon later this summer focused on making the permitting system called Hansen more streamlined and more effective. "Permitting isn't something as people normally think of as sexy, but it's so important to the operation of government, to development – whether it's homeowners or people doing larger projects, we want to get all the skills we have working on it," he said.

In his Reddit AMA, Walsh wrote that one of his top goals that he felt would be hardest to accomplish was "making sure every Bostonian has easy access to a computer and the internet."

Franklin-Hodge told the Boston Globe that one of his priorities would be working on infrastructure improvements to ensure that every neighborhood is sufficiently wired.

In the video, Walsh notes that he started the search for a new CIO on January 7, right after his inauguration. In April, the city announced a search for a Chief Digital Officer, a post within the Department of Innovation and Technology, which Franklin-Hodge will oversee.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Anne Roest as commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in May, and there have been reports that he could still be planning a top-level tech appointment situation within City Hall. He has yet to name a replacement for Michael Flowers, the chief analytics officer under Bloomberg.