Friday, October 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye to the People’s Mayor

MassTLC and the entire technology community are deeply saddened by the passing of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. A true urban mechanic and people’s mayor, he had a profound impact on the destiny of the city he loved over the course of his 20-years in office. In 2013, MassTLC recognized the Mayor’s contributions in front of 700+ tech and innovation leaders at a gala celebration with the following remarks which still ring true today:

“Perhaps the Mayor’s most visible legacy to the growth of the tech sector is the revitalization of the South Boston Waterfront.  Through the Innovation District initiative, the Mayor has transformed 1,000 acres of the South Boston waterfront into an urban environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.

In the three years since the initiative began, the former industrial enclave is bursting with development.  It is attracting a host of leaders in the tech space, including Enernoc, Apperian, LogMeIn and a many others.  This growth is spread across a diverse range of companies in different sectors and at different scales.

It has added over 4,000 jobs in over 200 new companies, with technology companies contributing 30% of new job growth.  Greentech + life sciences have contributed 16% of new jobs in these sectors.

Many more companies have announced plans to join the Innovation District community, and are expected to add another 2500+ jobs to the neighborhood.

The Mayor’s impact on the tech sector goes well beyond the Innovation District.  Through the Office of New Urban Mechanics, the Mayor and his team have been leaders in developing innovative and customizable public services – created in partnership with citizens using new information technologies and smartphone apps.  The Office of New Urban Mechanics is a unique Boston IT agency seeking inventive ideas from citizens and developing them through government/community partnerships.

A recent report by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society recognizes that “the City of Boston's strategy to put citizen engagement and participation at the center of its efforts, has drawn attention to the potential power of collaboration and technology to transform citizens' connections to their government and to each other.”

That strategy extends across Boston’s government functions. Public-works employees have piloted a new project called City Worker, to help municipal staff provide quick, on-demand services. Boston Public Schools just rolled out a new app to track the location of your child’s school bus. The city has led the nation on interesting tech partnerships – an example being the first city to engage with Code for America (CfA).  A nonprofit, CfA has been called the ‘Peace Corps for Geeks’ and is working to change the way cities work through technology and public service.

The City of Boston’s open government strategy has significantly enhanced civic engagement, improved policy, and improved the City’s ability to manage its operations.

The City’s Data Portal has become a de facto place for Boston’s municipal data.  The portal offers Boston residents better access to the performance, processes and people of City government than ever before.  The open data has helped support cutting edge research on the best ways to tackle urban problems.

Because of his leadership, the City of Boston has been at the forefront of municipal innovation nationwide.” 

It is with sadness and gratitude for your years of dedication that we say goodbye, Mayor Menino.

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