Boston Taps SAP To Measure City Services

SAP performance scorecards help Beantown track initiatives, meet goals and fix potholes faster.
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
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SAP announced Tuesday that the City of Boston is using the vendor's strategy management software and a mobile application to support the Boston About Results (BAR) e-government initiative.

The BAR program is designed to improve city services and increase accountability for city officials by detailing initiatives, goals and performance metrics on a public website. The performance scorecards featured on the site are powered by an SAP Strategy Management application. The stats are also made accessible to mobile users through a SAP CitizenInsight mobile app.

In one example of the 16 scorecards currently posted on the BAR site, the Public Works Department scorecard shows that the percentage of pothole complaints resolved in two or fewer days has increased from 48% in early 2011 to 96% as of September 2012. The strategy management software was rolled out to 45 city departments in May.

"Providing these tools to city officials enables them to continuously evaluate services and ensure we're all doing our part to improve the quality of life in Boston," said Mayor Thomas Menino in a statement.

[ Want to learn more on urban information technology initiatives? Read Future Cities: IT Priorities For Urban Transformation. ]

SAP has a large government practice, but its work with Boston is part of an SAP Urban Matters program launched this spring to step up work with city governments.

Populations are steadily concentrating in cities, so it's no surprise that SAP isn't the only vendor stepping up efforts to engage with city governments.

IBM last month announced the latest round of finalists in its three-year Smarter Cities initiative. Indeed, Boston was one of 100 cities awarded pro bono consulting engagements through IBM's program.

Appearing at a Smarter Cities event last month, Boston CIO Bill Oates described how the city's smartphone-powered citizen engagement apps let residents publicly post service requests. At least 25% of the city's service requests now come through digital channels including Twitter and mobile apps, he said.

In an example related to Public Works, the city came up with a Street Bump app that lets citizens report potholes. But the department decided to also use the accelerometer- and GPS-enabled smartphone app within its own fleet so employees could report problems as they travel throughout the city.

"Now we can crunch the data, see where we're getting the most hits and go fix the problem before we ever get a report from the public," Oates said.

SAP said its Urban Matters strategy addresses five key areas of city government: supporting the fundamentals of good government; empowering public officials to be more productive; increasing community engagement and openness; driving innovation around government service delivery; and improving urban resilience to help ensure public safety and security.

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