Boston cites data for improving traffic flow, snow cleanup

Printed from:

BOSTON – City Hall cited data collection and analysis for significantly improving traffic flow in some congested areas and better snow cleanup in a report on its Citywide Analytics team.

The team led more than a dozen projects citywide last year that aimed to engage citizens and improve daily government operations, according to a summary of the report distributed Thursday by Mayor Marty Walsh’s office.

In one effort last year, data analysts with the city’s transportation department and, a traffic navigation website and smartphone application, to reduce traffic jams by 18 percent in a three-month period at Seaport Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue downtown and shrink commuter delays by 20 percent – from 3 minutes to 2.4 minutes – at the intersection of Beacon Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Back Bay, according to the report.

Data snagged from the app prompted the team to experiment with bike-mounted parking enforcement officers to target areas of chronic double parking and to dabble with signal timing at some intersections. It has also helped evaluate the effectiveness of protected bicycle lanes.

During the record-breaking winter of 2015, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics teamed up with data analysts to create SnowStats, a website that keeps the public up-to-date on street clearing during snowstorms, the city said.

“The citywide analytics team is an invaluable asset that allows us to hold ourselves to the highest standards to ensure that we are delivering excellent city services,” Walsh said in a statement that accompanied the report.

Other initiatives have included “Hub Hackathons” that helped residents use the city’s data portal, and a system that updates Boston firefighters on hazard information en route to fire scenes. It is also using its 311 phone line to identify problems such as potholes that need fixing.

The city is also trying to use data to fight the opioid drug abuse crisis by identifying individuals more likely to become overdose victims, increasing chances of timely intervention.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis.