It may be the application to report a damaged or lost traffic signal, or being able to use a mobile device to connect students with opportunities for young people, but the truth is that Boston, Massachusetts has become one of the smart cities of the United States.
In recent years, the City of Boston has made immense technological advances for the benefit of businesses, residents and tourists. One of these advances is the first mobile application for the city called Citizens Connect. In this app, you get a mobile version of the city’s website, which is expected to help improve communication between citizens and the city both now and in the future – providing a service for residents wherever and whenever.
Citizens Connect allows residents and tourists to point out problems, such as potholes or defective lighting systems, directly from their device to city departments – these problems can then be solved quickly and efficiently. One of the latest additions is a new option that allows citizens to report damaged or lost traffic signs so that the local government can replace them.
Over the past two years, in addition to the mobile application, Boston has also launched the Geographic Information System (GIS) Data Center, introduced innovative electronic alerts and increased citizen engagement through social media.
Boston broadband to help education
With the help of a $4.3 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the city has invested heavily in a program that offers training, computers and opportunities to communities with less connectivity. The money has funded three background training programs on how high speed broadband internet connection can improve the quality of life and job prospects for citizens.
As part of the Boston Broadband initiative, these programs have been offered at schools, public libraries, youth and family centres, housing authority computer rooms, Timothy Smith Network Community Centres and residences for older people.
Boston is taking advantage of technology to change the way people use the streets and transportation. The city now was smart streets that use cameras and sensors to learn about people’s interaction and navigation on the streets and to be able to provide real-time roadway safety updates .
Currently there are projects being developed to avoid roadway hazards and implement better solutions, such as underground sensors, cameras, and LED lights. Additionally, the creation of Hubway gives the city a public bike share system which offers a fun, healthy and affordable way to get around the city. This solution has been implemented in other smart cities around the world and it consists of having bikes available in different stations around the city so people can use them for transportation across the city.
Alongside these other schemes the Boston will be starting to test driverless cars this year. Right now, nuTonomy Inc. has begun testing self-driving cars around the city in small sections, and soon we might be able to see them in action throughout the city.