Nutter launches New Urban Mechanics Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s city services are about to be tweaked by a new nimble outfit: New Urban Mechanics Philadelphia.

On Monday Mayor Nutter announced the city’s New Urban Mechanics initiative in his keynote speech at this year’s Code for America conference in San Francisco, reports

Clad in a Code for America track jacket, Nutter told the crowd that he sees open government as more than information transparency. He said: “Our agencies are constantly reminded that this is not about building better technology. It’s about rethinking how services are delivered and integrated across our city government. Our vision is to take every service that does not require a face to face interaction and making it available online so that our citizens can interact with the government any time, anywhere on any device and on their schedule.” Nutter’s speech is low on specific details but Nutter explained that idea is to test “small innovative projects in the civic space, which along with efforts of individuals across multiple city departments, will better enable our city to sustain a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial approaches to problem-solving.”

Boston had the first Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, and now other cities are establishing their own. New Urban Mechanics Philadelphia will be co-directed by Jeff Friedman and Story Bellows, both of whom have worked on civic innovation projects in the Mayor’s Office.

Sounds like an institutionalized way to carry forward the work that Code for America fellows have been doing in Philly for the last two years, aiming creatively connect citizens and government through technology, and to test out ways to improve city services (via tech or otherwise). As Technically Philly reported this week, Code for America will not return to Philly next year.


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