Marty Walsh – Mayor, Boston, Massachusetts
The City of Boston awakes this January morning with change in its chilly winds as Martin J. Walsh prepares to be sworn in as Boston’s new Mayor.
He will be Boston’s first new Mayor of the 21st Century in a city known for firsts.
- In 1634, Boston Common became the first public park in America;
- In 1635, Boston Latin School became the first public secondary school in America;
- In 1716, the first American lighthouse was built in Boston Harbor;
- In 1835, the first public school for African-American children, the Abiel Smith School, opened;
- In 1837, Samuel Morse invented the first electric telegraph based on Morse Code;
- In 1848, the Boston Public Library opened as the first publicly supported free municipal library in the world;
- In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the first telephone in Boston;
- In 1877, Helen Magill White graduated from Boston University as the first woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D.;
- In 1897, the first Boston Marathon was run; and
- In 1927, MIT professor Vannevar Bush constructed a differential analyzer, one of the first advanced computing devices used for research. An offshoot of the work at MIT by Bush and others was the beginning of digital circuit design theory.
As Marty Walsh prepares to lead Boston forward, he is well aware how tradition and technology have shaped the city’s past, and the opportunities they present for molding its future.
Nearly 140 years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in Boston, technology is woven into the fabric of Boston’s diverse economy, from its educational and financial institutions to the healthcare sector, and even its beloved sports teams. We constantly hear “there’s an app for that” in every part of life in Boston.
Marty Walsh has the opportunity to tap into this region’s rich tradition of technology excellence to make Boston that shining city on the seaport. By embracing technology in new ways, his Administration can make the city more effective, more efficient, and more transparent.
Bostonians want to interact with their local government about little things like potholes, and big issues like improving its schools and public transportation. Technology offers the path to developing strong, two-way communications channels between citizens and governments. There is also a tremendous opportunity to continue to open up government processes and data to encourage innovative solutions to the challenges of a modern city.
By embracing this moment of change, Marty Walsh and all of us in the region’s tech community have the opportunity to envision new possibilities for Boston and its surrounding communities by tapping into the region’s greatest resource – its people.
Richard Rossi – City Manager, Cambridge, Massachusetts
One opportunity is to build a stronger bridge between the thriving tech communities in Boston’s Innovation District and in Cambridge’s Kendall Square. As I sit in my office at One Memorial Drive in Cambridge, the Charles River sometimes seems like the Atlantic Ocean. And if Boston and Cambridge can feel like separate continents, other surrounding communities seem to be on the outer boundaries of those continents. It is fortuitous that as Boston gets its first new Mayor in 20 years, Cambridge also has its first new City Manager in 30 years, Richard Rossi. Mayor Walsh and City Manager Rossi have the opportunity to think broadly and boldly across city boundaries.
Similarly, at times, there seems to be a great divide between the tech community and traditional business, the new economy vs. the old economy. But it isn’t about pitting old vs. new. Instead, Marty Walsh, Richard Rossi, and the region’s other top political leaders have the opportunity to bridge the old and the new, to bring together tradition and technology in new and powerful ways that will once again have the world marveling at our region’s firsts.
So today we congratulate and look forward to working with Marty Walsh and Richard Rossi as they create new visions for their cities. Those of us at Microsoft’s New England Innovation & Policy Center are committed to connecting the region’s technology, business, academic, and government communities, catalyzing important technology and public policy discussions, and contributing to the vitality of the region’s tech community and broader economic development opportunities.
In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we look forward to working with Marty Walsh, Richard Rossi, and other government leaders in bridging divides and partnering to reimagine our cities, and helping to demonstrate the role technology can play in realizing those visions.
Annmarie Levins is Associate General Counsel in Microsoft’s newly created Technology & Civic Engagement group. She and her team are responsible for leading the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center New England, and for developing other Innovation & Policy Centers in the U.S. Annmarie, a Massachusetts native, has been based at NERD for the past five years, and is well known within the tech community here. She serves on the executive committees of the Mass. Tech Leadership Council and the New England Council, and chairs the New England Council’s Technology Committee. She also is Microsoft’s liaison to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.