Mayor Walsh Announces First HubHacks Challenge, Inviting Tech Community to Improve Permitting Experience
Two-Day Event Will Kick Off Mayor's Commitment to Reinvent Boston's Online Permitting System
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For Immediate Release
July 14, 2014
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

BOSTON – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) will host its first-ever HubHacks Permitting Challenge. The civic-minded Hackathon will begin a project to reinvent the City’s online permitting experience, one of the most common ways that Bostonians interact with the City of Boston. HubHacks will be held on August 9 and 10, 2014, at District Hall (75 Northern Ave), and will tap into Boston’s deep and talented technology community.

“I have made a strong commitment to ensuring a smooth process for anyone in need of permits, from the biggest business seeking an entertainment license, to the individual residents hoping to add a porch to their property,” said Mayor Walsh. “Boston is a unique city and we want a citizen-friendly portal that is designed with our specific city in mind. That is why we are hosting HubHacks – to find a collaborative solution to an issue with broad implications.”

Individual residents, business owners, and contractors file nearly 100,000 applications annually for any of more than 40 different permits that the City issues through its citywide permitting software system. In his first six months in office, Mayor Walsh tasked his administration with comprehensively improve the permitting process, streamlining the underlying business processes, providing more transparency, and offering a higher-level of customer service.

At HubHacks a new application programming interface (API) will be unveiled, which will allow Boston’s tech community the ability to create custom applications that feed directly into the City’s permitting system. Participants in the event will take on one of four challenges, each of which represents current pain points in the permitting process.

  • Which Permits Do I Need? A single project may require multiple permits.  Applicants need a clear, intuitive, and enjoyable guide that will help applicants identify the permits they need to start working.
  • What’s My Address of Record? Every project needs to be linked to an address in the City’s master database.  In the current system, finding your address is more difficult than it should be. The City’s new online system needs a clear way to search addresses and suggest alternatives, getting it right the first time.
  • Can I Apply for That Permit Online? Developers will be challenged to provide a very practical solution using the City’s new API to create a simple online and/or mobile application for Street Occupancy permits required to block space for a moving truck.  
  • Where Am I in the Approval Process? Complex building projects can take months to review and permit, even if the process works correctly. Residents need a clear way to track all permits associated with their project, which helps them understand the time frame for intended work.

This event will serve as a unique opportunity to hear about difficulties in Boston’s existing permitting system, collaborate and connect with new partners, and learn about a forthcoming RFP process to build Boston’s new online permitting tool. Further details and registration for HubHacks can be found at




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