New Urban Mechanics
The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) was formed in 2010 as the Mayor's civic research and design team (one of the first in the nation). We explore and tackle experiments and prototypes that cover a range of topics. This includes everything from the future of mobility to City infrastructure to collective well-being.OFFICE HOURS
Have a creative idea to improve the City? Let us know through email, or schedule an in-person brainstorm during an upcoming office hours. We have two slots on Tuesdays, from 2 - 4 p.m., and one slot on Wednesdays, from 9 - 10 a.m.JOIN OUR TEAM
While we don't have any current open positions, this is where they would first appear. Summer fellowships and Program Manager positions open in late November each year and close in late January.
2022 Year in Review
We've put together a brief year in review of some of our 2022 projects and reflections.
The MechanicsThe Mechanics
Highlights of our work
We’re dedicated to making Boston's streets safer, more efficient, and more delightful.
We are working to test innovative housing models and accelerate the pace of innovation in the housing sector.
Making Boston's spaces more welcoming, connected, and creative.
We're working to improve the systems that support learning experiences in Boston.
We believe playfulness is a vital part of thriving democracies, caring communities, and resilient cities.
A primer on the questions we're asking, the problems that stump us, and the partnerships we need.
We are dedicated to ensuring data collection in the public realm inspires resident trust, engagement, and delight.
Common questionsCommon questions
Digital Pop-Up Libraries Debut at Bus Stops Citywide
New City of Boston Block Party Kit Pilot Program Announced
Here are some pieces that have been written or recorded about New Urban Mechanics and our way of working.
- Design is Everywhere (Design Museum Everywhere): Civic Design with Intention and Service at the Core
- The Movement (TransLoc): Failure is Vital for What We Do
- Malmö Civic Lab (City of Malmö, Sweden): What's Boston Up To?
- Gimlet Creative (Wireframe): Good Design is Good Civics
- Mathematica (On The Evidence): Boston Invites Community to Set a Civic Research Agenda
- The Move Podcast S1E4: Designing for Delight
- Apolitical: Boston's innovation lab teaches government to take risks. Here's how
- Politico: Boston, There's an App for That
- Boston Globe: New Urban Mechanics, keep tinkering
- Fast Company: Boston Does Digital
- MIT Review: Cities Find Rewards in Cheap Technologies
- Governing: Will Urban Innovation Teams Outlast Political Change?
- GovTech: Boston Tackles Housing with Dedicated Innovation Lab
- Living Cities: Guide for Embedding Innovation in Local Government
Additional Dwelling Unit
We want to streamline the process for homeowners looking to create a rental unit.
The tool allows residents to partner with Boston Fire to make sure a specific fire hydrant is cleared of snow.
Autonomous Vehicles: Boston's Approach
Our plans for testing autonomous vehicles and their potential future in the City of Boston.
Bank On Boston
Bank On Boston connects Boston residents with reliable financial products and services that can help them save, grow, and access their money.
We're challenging how Boston thinks about the "smart city" and building an equitable community around civic experimentation.
Block Party Permits + Kits
Can we make the block party permitting process easier, clearer, and more delightful?
A public art initiative designed to inspire communities through inspirational quotations.
One of the first municipal reporting apps in the world.
Boost Bags provide an opportunity to increase weekend food access for vulnerable student populations within Boston Public Schools.
Boston Area Research Initiative
The Boston Area Research Initiative connects university professors and students with community groups and city officials.
Boston Civic Media Consortium
Advancing civic media research, teaching, and practice in Boston.
Boston's Safest Driver
A mobile app that measures safe driving performance and turns it into a game.
The children’s savings account program makes saving for college and career training available to all Boston Public Schools kindergarten (K2) students.
BPL Outdoor Spaces
We’re expanding the critical role of Boston Public Library (BPL) branches as community resource hubs.
Boston Public Schools (BPS) Air Quality Dashboard
We helped BPS install air quality sensors to and report real-time indoor air quality data through a public dashboard.
Browse, Borrow, Board
What new services could result from uniting public libraries with public transit?
Civic Research Agenda
A look into how we work with communities to build a civic knowledge base.
City Hall to Go Truck
Inspired by food trucks, our bright and friendly mobile City Hall truck is about serving City residents where they live, work, and play.
City Worker App
The City Worker App is a Public Works companion to BOS:311.
Clean Air in Boston
We’re working to improve the air quality in our neighborhoods.
A partnership with civic crowdfunding platform ioby.org to support the creation of “third spaces” around Boston.
An online game for more engaging community planning.
Density Bonus Pilot
The program gives developers incentives in exchange for more affordable units.
Design Action Research with Government
Design Action Research with Government (DARG) is a guide for creating civic innovation projects.
A web app that helps parents find which available schools might be the best fit for their child.
A safe space for people navigating housing insecurity and substance use issues.
Turns out, students actually want to eat salad at lunch.
Housing Innovation Competition
An opportunity to identify creative design solutions to produce more middle-income and elderly affordable housing in Boston.
Housing with Public Assets
Could building housing on top of — or next to — City buildings, such as libraries and community centers, benefit our communities?
A virtual reality game for engaging residents in community planning.
Kiddie Hall 2.0
We made a kid-friendly play space in the depths of City Hall. Did it make visitors and colleagues feel more welcome and connected?
Knox: The cargo e-trike
Can we now encourage employees to use a zero-emission vehicle for work trips?
LED Street Signs
To make streets safer for pedestrians at night, we experimented with the use of street name signs lit by LED lights.
Lunchbox of Sensors
We tested take-home sensing kits that can teach residents about about their indoor environments.
Lunch on the Lawn
Lunch on the Lawn was the first-ever youth summer meals site on City Hall Plaza.
Moving Through the Budget
We're using collaborative storytelling, dance, and movement to prototype a new form of engagement with Boston residents about the City Budget.
Numina Street Sensors
Is there such a thing as “healthy” data collection without surveillance?
Parklets are sidewalk extensions which occupy parking spaces, creating community spaces to hang out on, much like front porches or stoops.
We built a character-driven virtual world that allowed residents to explore Chinatown for a master planning process.
Participatory Pokémon Go
A city-wide, youth-led challenge to create new PokéStops around Boston for the popular app, Pokémon Go.
Performance Parking Pilot
Circle less and park easier in Boston's busiest neighborhoods.
Pick up / drop off pilot for passenger cars
The pilot program in the Fenway dedicates curb space for pick-ups and drop-offs for all passenger vehicles, including rideshare vehicles like Uber and Lyft.
Play around the City
A public design competition for making Boston's spaces more playful for all.
Playful Boston Initiative
We believe playfulness is a vital part of thriving democracies, caring communities, and resilient cities. Presenting a series of playful programs.
Plugin House Initiative
The Plugin House demonstrates the possibilities of backyard homes and smaller living to provide housing affordable to all.
Project Oscar is Boston’s 24-hour community compost pilot program.
Pulse of the City
A playful project at the intersection of public art and public health.
A tap card system prototype for Boston Public Schools buses.
Providing drivers with real-time parking information.
Using technology — like cameras and sensors — to learn more about how people navigate and interact on and with the City’s streets.
A solar-powered seat that can charge smartphones and collect data on the environment.
We're bringing equity to street repairs in the City of Boston.
A mobile app that gathers data about Boston’s streets using a smartphone’s built-in sensors.
Streetscape Innovation Fund
Through this $1 million fund, we experimented with new ways of designing and equipping City streets.
Our Summer Fellowship is designed for civic entrepreneurs interested in working in public service.
Can we use emerging technology to support and enhance our tree inventory?
Twitter Tree / Menorah
Our interactive tree and Menorah change color when people tweet a color using the hashtag #WickedCoolTree.
Urban Housing Unit Roadshow
Through our interactive exhibit, we heard from the community about what they think about smaller living.
Vehicle Side Guards
Protecting cyclists with vehicle sideguards.
What the Tech
We made a video series exploring the technology on Boston's streets.
Where’s my School Bus?
An app that allows parents to track the arrival and departure of their child’s bus.
We're giving those interested in civic entrepreneurship deep insight into working creatively in City government.
Youth Civic Design
Exploring ways to better collaborate with our younger generation of civic designers.
2017 Year in Review
A brief highlight of some of our work from 2017
2018 Year in Review
A brief highlight of some of our work from 2018
2019 Year in Review
A brief highlight of some of our work from 2019