…I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. “We must always consider”, he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us”. Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities. For we are setting out upon a voyage in 1961 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arbella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less fantastic than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within. History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these. For of those to whom much is given, much is required…

“New York City has long been at the forefront of using data and technology to direct public resources more effectively and deliver services more efficiently. We are proud to partner with Code for America and the Arnold Foundation to announce the next chapter in this effort – a new project to bring new reliable real-time information to our courtrooms to help ensure judgments are well-informed and justice is swift.” – John Feinblatt, Chief Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Similar to the Louisville Project (in fact, both funded by the Arnold Foundation) CfA Fellows will work with the NYC Criminal Justice Commission to identify opportunities that enhance and improve the quality, consistency, and accuracy of data used to inform policy and assess programmatic outcomes for pre-trial justice reform. The fellows will guide the development of technology tools and interfaces to facilitate data driven decision-making and tracking of defendants in pretrial status, and will increase the knowledge and skills of system personnel and criminal justice agency heads on jail and pretrial-based technological applications.

This is, and will remain, “a metro nation,” Mr. Katz said. National politicians are “about 25 years out of whack” with demographic and economic changes under way both here and abroad, he said, adding: “So the conversation in Washington seems to be happening in almost a parallel universe to the conversation at the local level, where the rubber hits the road, where you really have to grapple with issues. You can’t duck them.”

Technology isn’t so much the solution as it is a way to get more people involved in figuring out what the solution should be. That’s where the “peer-produced” bit comes in. The idea of peer networks also plays a role in the way New Urban Mechanics gets things done. Jacob and Osgood are the interface for new and experimental technology projects that need City Hall’s participation to succeed. They do that using a mix of personal connections, the fact that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino supports what they do, and relatively small cash infusions. Several projects I looked into last year were supported to the tune of between $10,000 and $25,000.