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This Government On Wheels Brings City Services To The People

Author: Jessica Nazzari
Published Date: 18 June 2014

This article was originally published here.

The idea of putting good food on wheels has certainly caught on over the last few years. And now, along with the ubiquitous urban food truck, we also have fashion trucks and even paternity test trucks.

In Boston, the mobile business craze is getting a civic twist with the city’s new “City Hall To Go” truck, a slick new motorized municipal office with a “menu” of common public services. Residents can visit the truck to get a dog license, dispute a parking ticket, register to vote, and even get a birth certificate. Or they can just drop by to ask a question or register a complaint. The idea is to give residents face-to-face contact with their government without requiring them to trek to some central office. That means it could be especially useful for people who work long hours, have mobility issues, or live on the unconnected side of the digital divide.

The idea was developed as part of the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, a civic problem-solving competition. Although City Hall To Go wasn’t selected as a finalist in the challenge, Boston ended up following through with the idea anyway. Since its debut at City Hall Plaza on December 5, the truck has hit a handful of Boston neighborhoods, including Dorchester, West Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain.

Over the next few months, it will make more select appearances and collect feedback from the public. The city hopes to make high-demand services more convenient. If lots of people want resident parking stickers, for example, the truck may start offering that as an on-the-spot service rather than just providing people with applications. The truck is aiming for “widespread coverage” in the spring.

And like many of the best food trucks, it’s got a visually engaging design. As the city says, “The map encircling the truck takes a viewer from west to east, along actual city streets, while the skyline celebrates Boston’s thriving urban center.” You can follow the truck on Twitter here.