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Thursday, March 22, 2018

BOSTON'S EFFORT TO EQUITABLY ALLOCATE SIDEWALK RESOURCES RECOGNIZED BY BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES

BOSTON'S EFFORT TO EQUITABLY ALLOCATE SIDEWALK RESOURCES RECOGNIZED BY BLOOMBERG PHILANTHROPIES
Boston selected as a finalist in the 2018 Mayors Challenge, enters next phase of competition
BOSTON - Thursday, March 22, 2018 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that Boston is one of 35 Champion Cities selected as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages cities to provide bold, inventive ideas to policy challenges. The City of Boston's proposal was a new, more equitable approach to allocating resources for sidewalks reconstruction. With some Boston neighborhoods using the City's constituent services system, 311, up to twice as frequently as others, Boston has implemented a new approach which augments 311 dispatch requests with other factors and data such as community need, pavement condition, and usage with the goal of getting a clearer picture of the condition of city sidewalks in every neighborhood throughout Boston.
 
"Equitable investment in our sidewalks leads to more equitable outcomes in health, safety and neighborhood vitality," said Mayor Walsh. "We are thrilled to be selected as a Champion City as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge to continue our work in applying an equity lens to all that we do, including sidewalk repairs and reconstruction."
 
Boston's proposal is one of 35 to rise to the top of a competitive pool of more than 320 applications. The City of Boston now advances to the six-month "Test, Learn, and Adapt" phase of the competition. During this process, the City's proposal will receive personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin a community conversation on the initiative. Boston will then submit a new application in August 2018.
 
In July 2017, Mayor Walsh released Boston's first citywide Resilience Strategy focused on ensuring every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and removing the barriers of systemic racism that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities. A goal in the Resilience Strategy includes revamping the sidewalk policy to address sidewalk maintenance and repair by more proactively collecting data on sidewalk conditions citywide.
 
This past fall, the City of Boston's Department of Public Works implemented a new system where, in addition to notifications from residents to the 311 service, the City utilizes a more systematic approach to evenly allocating resources for repairs. Repair crews surveyed all 1,600 miles of Boston sidewalk, collecting and recording data of its condition, and then prioritized repairs based on a number of factors, paying particular attention to areas with socially vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by environmental and infrastructural hazards.
 
"We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people's lives. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.
 
"Our sidewalk capital program will prioritize equity, engineering analysis and usage as key drivers for which sidewalks we rebuild each year," said Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets. "We're proud that this decision-making process that foregrounds equity has been recognized by Bloomberg Philanthropies as an innovative solution to an urgent local issue that can be transferable to other municipalities across this country."

In October, Bloomberg Philanthropies will announce the four cities that will receive $1 million awards and the one that will receive a grand prize of $5 million.

The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria - vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee Co-Chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns and comprising distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders assessed the applications.

The 2018 Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

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