Published December 11, 2020

MELROSE — The Community Compact Cabinet’s Information Technology grant program announced that the City of Melrose had been awarded a $100,000 grant to implement a data and productivity project across City departments. This competitive grant program is targeted at rewarding proposals which utilize technology to create innovations at the municipal level.

“Making sure that we are using data to drive our decision making, and sharing the stories of the work we do for and with residents each day are critical pieces of what I hope to achieve as Mayor,” Mayor Brodeur said. “In a City like Melrose with limited resources, we always have to find ways to work smarter and more creatively. Technology allows us to accomplish that.”

These funds position the Mayor to deliver on a central campaign promise of making City processes and functions like DPW work or the annual operating budget more accessible and easy to understand for residents. While the project will have to balance with other initiatives and priorities, especially in the wake of the growing uncertainty associated with the rise in covid-19 cases, this funding will be a critical jump start.

“Over the next several months, I am looking forward to crafting and getting feedback on a strategic plan to integrate data collection and analysis into as many departments possible. Sharing that information out to the public is another critical component. Stay tuned,” Mayor Brodeur said.

“As a Melrose City Councilor, I had a first-row seat to the City’s initiatives to strengthen data sharing as a component of constituent services and municipal work, including improvements to the DPW ticket tracking system, the visual budget platform, and the categorization of road conditions,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian. “I’m pleased to see the State acknowledge and reward our local commitment to data-driven work through this grant award.”

Using data to unlock insights at the local level is a growing trend amongst forward thinking municipalities. Harvard University researchers Amen Ra Mashariki and Nicolas Diaz write in their paper The Analytics Playbook for Cities that “City analytics, a discipline that combines operations research and data science, has the potential to unlock the big insights behind the big data and move local governments toward higher efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of services and the prevention of social ills.”

““This data and productivity grant funding is a great example of the positive impacts of the strong partnership between City Hall and the State House,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “Good government begins with transparency and accessibility for citizens, and I am confident that Mayor Brodeur and the city government will use this funding to help Melrose residents and community leaders gain a clearer understanding of the innovations already improving life in the city.”

While the grant has been awarded to the City, the City Council must vote to accept it. The Administration remains primarily focused on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and will engage stakeholders around the formation of a more detailed implementation plan over the course of the winter.