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Concerned about the need to ensure that all citizens had equal and appropriate access to city services and resources and inspired by the popularity of local food trucks, the city of Boston created a “City Hall to Go.” The “City Hall To Go,” brings government services out into underserved communities through staffed food truck vehicles. The initiative increased access to services and helped to boost civic engagement and trust.
The initial idea for “City Hall to Go” was to mimic the colorful designs of local food trucks but instead of serving food, residents would be able to access government services from filing taxes, registering to vote, paying a parking ticket, to requesting a birth certificate, getting new recycling bins or getting a library card (among others).
First proposed in 2012, after a year of prototyping and refinement – partly driven by the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge” – the truck was ready to roll. To ensure that the “food truck” reached the right people in the right places at the right time, the city polled residents about their preferred times and visits.
What started as a way to provide services and support to residents quickly became a vehicle for greater resident engagement. In September 2014, a new cabinet post called “Chief of Civic Engagement” was established. The Chief of Civic Engagement post is concerned with a 24-hour civic engagement hotline, as well as the “City Hall To Go” project. Today, members of the Mayor’s administration accompany the “City Hall To Go” out into various neighborhoods – bringing key leaders out into the community to talk with residents.
Since August of 2013, the City of Boston reports there has been a 250% increase in transactions, clearly the truck is filling a need in the community.