January 25, 2013 By Jessica Renee Napier
Food trucks — or restaurants on wheels — have become such a popular phenomenon in the United States that many mobile kitchens now cater events, participate in food truck festivals and receive reviews on popular restaurant websites.
In Boston, the food truck industry gained such popularity during the past couple of years that city officials created a pilot project to offer city services based on the mobile truck trend.
In November, the city began piloting the City Hall To Go truck. The bright red vehicle makes rounds in Boston’s neighborhoods, offering a menu of city services to constituents. A retrofitted vehicle from the police department's bomb squad, the truck will begin a regular schedule in April, following the harsh winter weather.
“The idea is to bring city services out into the neighborhoods,” said Molly Dunford, the project’s chief coordinator. “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to access the city.”
During the current pilot, the city alerts citizens two weeks in advance of the truck’s next location. Dunford explained that the truck’s location and schedule are promoted via neighborhood newspapers, social media, newsletters and word of mouth.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.