City of Boston Receives Awards from the Renowned Public Technologies Institute
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For Immediate Release
April 29, 2009
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Press Office

City of Boston Receives Awards from the Renowned Public Technologies Institute

Awards recognize the BPD's Text-a-Tip program and the City's expansive fiber optic network

Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced that the City of Boston has received two distinguished awards from the Public Technologies Institute. The awards recognize the Boston Police Department's (BPD) efforts to gather crime leads via cell phone texting with their "Text-a-Tip" program as well as the City's Management and Information Services (MIS) department for its expansive Boston Fiber Optical Network allowing departments across the city to share information at a rapid rate.

"These two awards once again prove that Boston is leading the way in utilizing new technologies to increase constituent services, not only making our streets safer but increasing the speed at which departments communicate," said Mayor Menino. "My administration will continue our efforts with new media and technology so that Boston is leading the way into the future."

In 2006, the number of homicides in Boston had more than doubled since 1999, going from a low of 31 to 74. Police Commissioner Edward Davis recognized that along with this surge in violent crime, young adults were becoming more reluctant to come forward with information. With few residents taking advantage of the already established anonymous phone tip line, Commissioner Davis realized that texting was increasingly becoming the preferred method of communication among youth and younger adults. This situation led to a partnership with Hill Holiday and "VeriSign" to create the nations first anonymous text tip line.

The Text-a-Tip program – recognized under the Public Safety category – was started under the Boston Police Department's Crime Stoppers Mobile Program in June 2007 and was designed to increase cooperation with the community and combat a "stop snitching" culture that has permeated through major cities across the country.

With the inception of the Text-a-Tip program, the Crime Stoppers unit's call volume increased by 59% in the first year alone. Since then, the program has continued to see a steady increase in call volume, receiving 561 phone tips in 2008, significantly higher than the 326 phone tips that came in 2006.

"Through the Text-a-Tip program we have potentially saved lives and solved many crimes," said Bill Oates, the Mayor's Chief Information Officer. "The Mayor has been a constant advocate for advancing the City of Boston's utilization of new technology. These awards recognize our progress in setting a strong foundation for technology leadership in the public sector."

Underserved remote sites and increasing costs are two major problems Boston faced in dealing with the increased demand for collaboration and connectivity around the City. In response to this problem, the city created BoNet, the Boston Fiber Optic Network, to link the core networks of the city including City Hall, Boston Public Schools, Boston Public Library, and Fire and Police Headquarters and Stations. BoNet enables the city to experience a ten-fold increase in service capacity, and greatly improves the speed and quality of data and video traffic.

Aside from speed of the Boston Fiber Optical Network, which connects 113 city buildings to each other, the most important benefit the city sees from the network is the amount of money saved and cost avoided annually. Previously, the City of Boston paid for leased lines on other networks to connect city facilities. The implementation of this robust, independent network has reduced the city's reliance on those services. In 2009 alone, BoNet has helped the city avoid costs projected to be $2.4 million. Buildings connected to the network include 35 fire stations, 34 schools, 16 police stations and 28 libraries.

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