Innovation Initiatives

This year, we would like to highlight two breakthrough developments that have positively impacted the residents of Boston.

Mobile App Success

The role of ICT in the City is very tightly tied to our commitment to innovation. Our ongoing success with the Citizens Connect platform led to a service capability that was quickly accepted and endorsed by our constituency. It also highlighted the opportunity that we had to exploit the technology progress made in the mobile space. We have successfully updated Citizens Connect (Version 4.0 coming in Q1 of 2013) for our constituents, adding more new features and services.

City Worker

First, we deployed our City Worker internal mobile app to our largest service delivery departments. Our impetus for City worker was born in the success of Citizens Connect. We wanted to:

  1. Develop a new application supported by the improvements in mobile devices,
  2. Engage an effective, but non-traditional technology partner,
  3. Deliver value to our line departments, and
  4. Make a difference to our residents.

City Worker allows our employees to manage real-time constituent requests for basic city services, as well as create new cases – from the field - in the City’s work order management (WOM) system for internally-identified problems. By implementing this platform we have provided service-oriented departments the tools they need to address critical constituent needs in a more cost effective, efficient, and timely manner. This change in approach leads to improved performance and accountability, real taxpayer savings, and helps build citizen confidence in our services.

To date, city workers have logged 2,900 requests since we launched the application. This high adoption rate by city workers shows internal buy-in has been successful; the application also has increased worker productivity and improved service delivery targets.

Broadband Strategy - Digital Literacy & Training Programs

We continue our attempts to bridge the digital divide in the City of Boston. The City has been a leader in this fight for decades. Former Mayor Menino leveraged e-rate in the mid 1990’s to dramatically improve the student to computer ratio in the Boston Public Schools. The divide is a little different now, but conquering the divide continues to be a priority for Boston. DoIT has served as a leader in bringing city agencies together to remove barriers to academic success and break the cycle of poverty and education inequality.  DOIT provides the tools and technology to enhance cross-agency collaboration. Our breakthrough is in our new approach to delivering a program that has been in place in Boston for nearly a dozen years.

Tech Goes Home (TGH)

TGH has gained national recognition as a model digital literacy training program and has been endorsed as an exemplary broadband adoption program in the National Broadband Plan. TGH has received funding and awards for innovations in program design and delivery that demonstrate the organization's impact beyond Massachusetts.  Central to the initiatives success are web-based and mobile TGH curriculum tools. Both the TGH Web Portal and new Mobile App Platform deliver curated resources which empower participants to enhance how they "Live, Learn, Earn, Work, & Play" online, in their neighborhoods, and on the go.

The TGH @ Schools model serves a guardian/child pair, learning together, in a 15 hour TGH course taught by the child’s teacher. For up to 70% of our families, TGH @ School is the first time that the guardian has participated in a school event. After the course, 98% say they got to know the school and teacher better and that they will continue to stay in touch.

The TGH @ Community model serves individual members of the community at a community site near their homes. The course is similar, but tailored to meet the needs of the specific participants (some classes are all seniors while others are all unemployed.  Many of our community programs are located in Public Computing Center sites that were supported by our PCC grant.

We specifically target under-served populations, including low income, unemployed, disabled (blind, deaf, Autistic, physically or cognitively impaired), seniors, and non-English speaking (we teach in 9 languages).

At our one-year follow up survey, 90% of our participants report being connected to the Internet at home. Our average participant’s household income is under $25,000.  In addition, at the one-year mark, 40% of our respondents state that TGH either helped them find a job or helped improve their prospects at their current job. 

We are currently working on the development of a Tech Goes Home @ Small Businesses. This program will provide small businesses with the skills and resources needed to increase their efficiency and improve marketing efforts. TGH has now piloted classes in NYC and will be in RI in the near future. Often sought out for support and guidance by other sustainable broadband adoption programs, we provide free access to our resources for all audiences. Our website gets upwards of 20,000 hits per month.

TGH By The Numbers

  • 70 schools
  • 50 community sites (Boston Public Libraries, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, Timothy Smith Network Computing Centers, and Boston Housing Authority Computing Centers)
  • 6,703 people trained 2010-2012
  • 319 courses given 2010-2012
  • 4,785 training hours provided

Tech Goes Home (440)