Taking Risks: Boston’s Innovation Lab Has Big Ideas

For many, making the trek to city hall to register to vote or apply for a parking permit is a necessary evil — but not in Boston. A roaming City Hall-to-Go van, modeled after a food truck, visits every neighborhood, offering citizens one-on-one guidance and easier access to public services.

City Hall-to-Go is the brainchild of the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), and one of its many initiatives designed to improve the relationship between citizens and government. MONUM calls itself a design studio within government; a place where solutions are prototyped, free from bureaucratic constraints. Ideas that originated there range from Citizens Connect, an app for reporting problems to city officials, to Boston Saves, a program designed to help kids in public school put money away for college. MONUM can take on the risk associated with big ideas like these — and once tried and tested, pass them onto city agencies.

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