The Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) is a pioneering organization that uses private sector innovation models to promote more effective government. Formed in 2010 by Chris Osgood and Nigel Jacob, MONUM partners with entrepreneurs and technology companies to crowdsource, build, pilot and scale projects that enhance the quality of life for Bostonians. MONUM’s core mission is to increase the influence that citizens have over their government through the power of collaboration and technology .
Example projects include:
- Citizens Connect: The country’s first big-city 311 app that allows residents to report public issues directly from their smartphones .
- Street Bump: Mobile app that senses and reports potholes as residents drive throughout the city .
- Flu Shot App: Platform that informs Boston residents of the nearest place to get a flu shot and schedules an appointment for them .
- Smart Parking: An app that uses government data to provide drivers with real-time information on vacant parking spots throughout the city .
The Office has received significant praise since its founding and its operations are being replicated by cities across the country . It is a leading model of how the private sector and public sector can work together to do a significant amount of good.
MONUM’s operating model has three distinct features that allow it to source, select and build successful projects for the city:
- Innovation funnel: With very limited resources, the Office relies heavily on crowdsourcing ideas and forming partnerships with civic hackers. Through email, twitter and local hackathons, MONUM identifies ideas for potential projects. The Office then partners with local technology companies and entrepreneurs to pilot these projects. MONUM monitors closely and refines each project in its pilot phase before determining whether the project is scalable or not. Finally, successful projects are scaled for city-wide roll-out. 
- Transparency: MONUM promotes transparency, a core value of the Boston Mayor’s Office, by publishing real-time results and usage of its projects to the public. For example, in the city’s Citizens Connect app, residents can see how many public complaints (potholes, graffiti, etc.) have been resolved and the time it takes to resolve each complaint .
- Organizational structure: The five-person MONUM team uniquely stands outside the city’s departmental structure . The Office is constantly forging partnerships with constituents, academics, private companies and non-profits. This flat and nimble organizational structure allows the team members to leverage all resources in City Hall to pilot and scale its experiments .
MONUM’s business model is quite simple – the Office first pilots, then launches projects city-wide that create value for the citizens of Boston. The Office defines value as increasing the quality of life of Bostonians through citizen-centered innovation.
The Office originally piloted projects that focused on civic engagement; however, MONUM’s own focuses have expanded in the past year. MONUM has prioritized four major issue areas for its experiments: education, engagement, the Streetscape and economic development .
MONUM’s success is largely due to its operating and business models’ ability to support each other. First, the innovation funnel is successful in crowdsourcing and narrowing down the very best ideas for projects. With only a five person team and no formal budgetary authority, MONUM does not have the capacity or resources to invest in R&D to build experiments. MONUM’s crowdsourcing model circumvents this barrier and the Office is inundated with ideas for potential projects. Moreover, its “first pilot, then scale” strategy ensures that only the most successful projects will be rolled-out city-wide.
The transparency of the Office’s projects provides a continual feedback loop that allows the apps to provide the most public good possible. By allowing its apps to have open API, providing bulk user data online and publishing real-time results from the projects, MONUM allows residents of Boston to engage with projects post-launch and provide recommendations for further enhancement. Projects are then continually refined and upgraded as improvements are made .
Finally, MONUM’s organizational structure of sitting outside City Hall’s departmental silos allows the Office to expand into new areas. Due to the limited resources in local government, organizations within City Hall are always at risk of getting cut in each budgetary cycle. However, MONUM’s nimble organizational structure provides the Office the ability to form partnerships and build projects across all forms of government service . Five years into its existence, MONUM has enhanced the delivery of services across a wide array of City Hall’s departments and has proven that innovation is essential to how cities of the future are run.
 Crawford, Susan, and Dana Walters. “Citizen-Centered Governance: The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Evolution of CRM in Boston.” Berkman Center for Internet & Society (2013).
 Weiss, Mitchell. “More Citizens Connect.” Harvard Business School case (2015).
 “Projects.” New Urban Mechanics Homepage. http://newurbanmechanics.org/portfolio/. 4 Dec. 2015.
 “About.” New Urban Mechanics Homepage. http://newurbanmechanics.org/about/. 4 Dec. 2015.
 Lawrence, Alex. “Ten Innovations That Reimagine City Services: Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.” 2013.
 Schreckinger, Ben. “Boston: There’s an App for That.” Politico 10 June 2014.