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Customer Snapshot: Overview

55% less crime in targeted locations

It’s no joke when we say the City of Boston has raised the “BAR” on creating a more livable, cleaner and safer city—not to mention a more efficient and productive one. Winner of the Driving Digital Government Award, Boston About Results (BAR) is the City’s performance metrics system that turns real-time data into measurable outcomes. 

City of Boston

Budget: US$2.5 billion

Number of Employees

Public Sector

Visionary Themes

Digital Economy

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Customer Website

Line of Business
Human Resources, Platform and Technology, Service, Sustainability

SAP Solutions
SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence (BI) solutions, SAP HANA, SAP Strategy Management, UX design services from SAP

This gives City of Boston officials and residents the ability to monitor how city agencies are performing, and pinpoint areas for improvement. Utilizing UX design services from SAP, the city reimagined the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) portal, improving information access for Boston’s residents, and paving the way for future expansion.

With SAP HANA, Boston is able to proactively troubleshoot issues and reach strategic policy goals. Some key outcomes: 


Less than 10 overdue city permits, reduced from over 600

18 New interactive city department scorecards
45 New department dashboards for decision making

2,000 Unique KPIs being delivered via mobile and online

24x7 Access to the City for citizens via mobile and online
66% Reduction in calls regarding problem properties

Committed to helping the citizens of Boston

Customer Snapshot: History

Boston Strong: Past, Present, and Future

Incorporated as a town in 1630, and as a city in 1822, Boston is one of America's oldest metropolises. What began as a homesteading community has become the economic and cultural hub of New England, as well as a center for social and technological innovation. For nearly 400 years, Boston has worked to ensure that their residents receive the best possible municipal services.

Today, this goal is supported by a commitment to measuring performance against strategic priorities for all city departments and providing transparency into city operations. The statistical tools in BAR enable city officials to continuously evaluate services and improve quality of life.

As a city of innovation, Boston is home to the first windmill, lighthouse, public park, secondary school, regular newspaper, public anti-smoking law, and chocolate factory in America

Customer Snapshot: Business Model

The Key to Maintaining Such a Livable City

Boston prides themselves on regularly being listed among the most livable cities in the United States. Twenty-one diverse neighborhoods offer more than 600,000 residents the opportunity to taste, touch, and experience things from all over the world. Neighbors benefit from exceptional medical facilities, vibrant neighborhood business districts, and a substantial network of parks, community centers, and libraries.

Customer Snapshot: Success Strategy


Thinking with a New Perspective

Local governments are tasked with providing centralized services that effectively use the latest technology. Automated, fast, friendly, responsive service has become the new face of government to the public, and the City of Boston is delivering results from the perspective of an open government that collaborates with citizens.

Boston is a city known for innovation. So when it came to redesigning one of its web portals this year, no wonder city officials continued the tradition by seeking the help of User Experience Design Services from SAP.

The Challenge

Systematically Improving Performance

The City of Boston wants to turn performance management into performance improvement, engage citizens through multiple channels and empower them via direct interaction, and demonstrate accountability through performance reporting. Boston also wants to help businesses grow and thrive by boosting the performance and consistency of their permit inspectors.
To identify and respond to properties where there is persistent criminal activity and violations of sanitation and building codes, Boston needs to supply their inter-departmental Problem Properties Task Force with the right tools and information.

Such a large population with diverse goals needs ready access to all kinds of information. Residents, property developers, and local business were accessing the DND portal regularly, but the site was cluttered, hard to navigate, and lacked a unified structure. Despite a limited budget, the city knew steps needed to be taken to improve portal access ASAP.

Enter SAP

It’s all About Results

Data sharing is a large part of Boston’s efforts to improve the quality of life for their residents. But the City aspires to elevate BAR from an interesting data collection effort to a citywide performance management system accessible in real-time from any device.
As an existing customer of SAP, the City of Boston uses SAP technology for data analytics in three different ways. First, the city implemented SAP Strategy Management to track high-level strategies and goals. With SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions, the City of Boston connects day-to-day operations to their strategic goals.

With SAP HANA, Boston is now ready to find the hidden stories in big data, to become a predictive and proactive government. The City of Boston DND portal also needed improvement that was more than just skin deep. The SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) teamed up with the SAP Web Portal Engineering team in Israel to collaborate with Boston’s DND team and ensure that time and effort was spent only on designs that could be implemented on the city’s current system and could be built upon moving forward.


The way that SAP had designed the strategy management tool was very consistent with how our organization thought about performance management.

Enter SAP: The SAP Experience

Working Together for the People

By implementing the SAP HANA platform, Boston now offers interactive scorecards for 18 city departments, a portal for viewing the city’s raw data, and several internal dashboards that help educate decision-making in all 45 city departments.
In addition to creating a compelling, interactive public web presence for their citizen-facing performance management tools, the City of Boston and SAP worked together to develop an iPad/iPhone app called Citizen Insight that gives the public a mobile tool for monitoring performance metrics.
As for the portal, within six weeks, the team had met with key employees, attended classes and interviewed people who used the site, pulled in team members specializing in research, strategy, interaction and visual design, submitted design proposals, and delivered guidelines for creating icons, links, and maintaining branding strategies.
Although it was beyond the original statement of work, we knew this was what the city really needed. Ultimately, we fail at SAP if we give customers something beautiful that then breaks down in a year because there are no design guidelines to follow. —Jonathon Judal, Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) from SAP in North America

Better Business


Rebounding After Tragedy

The City’s ability to use data to rapidly benefit the public was tested by the tragic aftermath of the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Experts estimate that the bombings cost the local economy more than $300 million in lost wages, retail sales, and infrastructure damage.

SAP worked with the City of Boston to identify solutions and communicate them to affected businesses to speed their economic recovery.

The complete overhaul of the technology that supports performance management in the City of Boston is changing how city departments use data and is improving how citizens can monitor the City’s performance. The BAR system, powered by SAP, has also attracted accolades from both civic and technology organizations, such as the Driving Digital Government Award.
The DND portal enables the city’s residents to access databases through an elegantly designed user experience. The site provides a DIY way to get information without taxing already overloaded city employees. The new design and branding solutions also enable the city to expand the site as DND Boston’s needs grow.

Better Business: Benefits

Safer, Cleaner Neighborhoods

With SAP solutions, the City of Boston tracks more than 2,000 unique key performance indicators. These monthly and quarterly KPIs help ensure that city performance is tied to strategic goals. Additionally, using real-time data from SAP HANA, the Problem Properties Task Force has been able to reduce crime rates in targeted areas by 55%, and the city has been able to reduce the number of overdue permits from more than 600 to fewer than 10.The web portal consolidates access to the seven operational divisions of the DND, helping the city of Boston set housing policy, manage real estate portfolio, and strengthen Boston’s small businesses through a dynamic online resource.


A more predictive and productive city with analytics.

Enabling local business growth - easier and faster.

Better Business: Lessons Learned


Aspiring to be a Transformational City

Good design goes beyond making things look better. It takes a closer look at everything in a system, to make sure the system helps make the design work.

A lot of what we accomplished wasn’t in the design. It was in bringing the different visions of the city’s stakeholders together to build a common understanding, a common vision, and a common goal for what we were all working towards. — Anthony Jakubiak, Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) from SAP in North America

Better Business: Run Simple

A Stronger – and Smarter – City

City officials are pleased with how tools powered by SAP help employees be more effective at their jobs. Whether it’s fixing potholes or enabling elderly residents to stay in their homes, easy-to-use SAP tools help put information in one place so people who need it can get a comprehensive, real-time picture of what needs to be done.
Due to the collaboration with the Design & Co-Innovation Center at SAP, the City of Boston was able to see that these branding and design changes would help Boston’s constituents and residents as a whole.

With SAP HANA, the City has also created mobile-enabled performance reporting tools for employees to dig deeper into factors that affect the quality of life in Boston.

Journey Ahead

Resurrecting Trust in Government—for the People

By using data more effectively, the City of Boston is able to make better decisions at both the strategic and operational levels. That means Boston can devote more of their resources to serving the public in ways most meaningful to citizens.
With a solid online branding and design system in place, the City of Boston and the DND are poised for successful communication now and in the future with Boston’s most important resource: it’s people.

In the next 5-10 years...

This is a great time to be in government, because we have all these cool things happening in technology. Look at the advancements in mobility and cloud computing and social media and what that offers us in terms of communicating with our residents. We can now create engagement channels that allow the constituent to see and feel and touch what their government is doing — and develop that trust relationship back with government.
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