The Urban Commons

Congratulations to Service-Learning faculty member Daniel O’Brien on the release of his new book The Urban Commons: How Data and Technology Can Rebuild Our Communities!

Drawing on years of research into Boston’s 311 reporting system, Professor O’Brien explains transformative insights into this “sophisticated city management tool” that has helped to revolutionize the way that average Bostonians maintain and use the city’s public spaces.

For insights into the book’s subject matter from the author himself, continue reading below:

“The book leverages reports received by Boston’s 311 system to tell the story of how urbanites take care of public spaces and infrastructure. This “custodianship” is apparent as people address both the everyday issues of cracked sidewalks and street light outages, and the more dramatic damage wrought by a hurricane.

The book does more than recapitulate a specific research agenda. It communicates the lessons we have learned in developing the Boston Area Research Initiative, illustrating the broader potential of urban informatics to transform research and policy in cities. It focuses on the knowledge locked in administrative data and the power of collaboration between academics, policymakers, and practitioners, offering an alternative to the futuristic narratives surrounding “smart cities” that can have greater impact today.

Speaking of collaboration, this is a sole-authored work, but in reality it is the product of years of partnerships and conversations, and I am deeply indebted to many of you. Thank you for your advice and insights, without which the work would not have been possible. Now that it’s arrived, I hope you enjoy the book and encourage you to share it with your own friends and colleagues who might find it useful and interesting.”- Daniel T. O’Brien

To purchase your own copy of “The Urban Commons” you can visit Amazon, The Harvard Press, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers.

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