By Ally Freeman
In one of the more innovative city government ideas of 2012, the City of Boston recently launched ‘City Hall To Go' — a mobile City Hall of sorts, offering a diverse menu of services directly to constituents. According to the City of Boston, the mobile City Hall — inspired by popular food trucks — is the nation's first of its kind.
The concept is aimed at bringing selected services directly to Boston constituents, easing convenience and removing a long commute for some residents who live far from the City's downtown building. At the same time, the colorful mobile truck promotes local government as accessible and approachable.
In a statement, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said, "City Hall To Go builds on our mission to shake up the status quo in municipal services. This pilot offers one more way for Boston residents to get personal, timely service from the City, and makes it even easier by cutting out the trip to City Hall."
The menu of services offered through City Hall To Go includes four categories: car, home, families and pets. Residents can pay parking tickets, property and excise taxes, acquire recycling bin stickers, register to vote, request birth, marriage and death certificates and more. Boston residents can easily track the truck's location and receive updates on its Twitter feed and homepage.
In addition to the regular menu of services, City Hall To Go also plans to offer seasonal features, and is seeking feedback from residents as to what other services it might offer or bring to constituents as more and more people try out the service. The City has also said it will use the mobile truck at City events, festivals and block parties throughout the year.
A December article in the Jamaica Plain Gazette cited a City of Boston staffer who said the idea stemmed from the Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge. When brainstorming ideas to submit to the challenge — which celebrates creative problem solving and innovation in municipal government— the idea of a mobile City Hall was suggested. Though not submitted, the City realized the potential and feasibility of launching the truck.