Through the platform, participants locate one of the more than 13,000 public fire hydrants in the City. They then name it and commit to clearing the hydrant of snow after a snowstorm.
The winter months affect many services in Boston, and snowstorms make things worse.
A snow-covered fire hydrant can take away precious minutes from the Fire Department. A tool that encourages volunteers to help clear hydrants could improve their response to emergencies.
Our hypothesis? A fun platform that encourages residents to help keep a fire hydrant cleared after a snowstorm will aid the Boston Fire Department.
The City launched Adopt-a-Hydrant in January of 2011. A searchable map of Boston allows residents to find hydrants in the City. Users can adopt unclaimed hydrants, who name these hydrants.
If a hydrant is already adopted, other users can click a button to remind the adoptive volunteer to shovel. The app sends friendly reminders to volunteers when snowstorms hit Boston. Also, the app encourages volunteers to share their good deeds.
- About 100 volunteers have used the platform to adopt hydrants.
- Usage of the Adopt-a-Hydrant tool to this point has been limited, but promising. There’s potential for a large-scale adoption by local neighborhood groups.
The tool features a clear purpose and easily reusable code. For that reason, Adopt-a-Hydrant is a primary example of how open-source civic software can spread across across the country. Other cities can now adapt the tool to their own needs.
For example, the City of Honolulu has used the Adopt-a-Hydrant model to launch its own Adopt-a-Siren tool. Their app asks for residents' help in testing tsunami sirens across the island.