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Philadelphia, Portland and Code For America work on building a better RFP

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, September 4 2014

While Healthcare.gov is now often used as short-hand for government procurement challenges and questions are being raised about New York City's contracting process for a project to reinvent pay phones as Wi-Fi hot-spots, cities such as Philadelphia and Portland, along with Code for America, are among those working with city officials and companies to redefine and reinvent the Request for Proposals process. Read More

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

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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Boston's Street Bump coming to Britain

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 26 2012

The smartphone app Street Bump, which allows users to report potholes and was first tested in Boston last year, is now also coming to Bristol in the United Kingdom, the BBC and the Sunday Times (of London) reported. The idea behind the application, as CNN recently reported, is that a smartphone's accelerometer senses potholes while driving, and then sends that data with a GPS coordinate to a city database, to create a "real-time" map of road conditions, and catch critical road conditions earlier. 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