Government Information

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Category Archives: Government Information

Preparing for Winter

Posted on November 21st, 2014 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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Take advantage of available resources to stay safe and warm, as well as get the most fun out of winter. This guide links to information on keeping warm in your home, cold weather safety, tips on safety driving, emergency parking regulations, protecting your roof, and getting help paying your heating bills. Also included are some information on stuff you can only do in the winter–snow shoeing, skating, and shopping at winter farmers markets…


Resources and Further Reading

BPL Booklist

Winter Preparedness

City of Boston tips on cold weather safety and safe driving, emergency parking regulations, and protecting your roof.

Help With Your Winter Utility Bill–Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Heating and Energy Savings Resources–Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Winter Storm Safety–American Red Cross

Skating Rink Schedules–Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Ski and Snowshoe Trails in Greater Boston –Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Winter Farmers Markets in Massachusetts–


Medical Marijuana

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Gail Fithian in Government Information

In November 2012, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question allowing the use of marijuana for the treatment of certain medical conditions. The Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services websites contain important information on the laws and regulations on use of therapeutic marijuana.

The library has compiled a guide to books, articles, websites, and other resources related to therapeutic use of marijuana and the laws and regulations governing use in the state of Massachusetts. Also contained in this guide are resources for people who want to learn more about the social and political controversies surrounding the marijuana industry and therapeutic uses of marijuana. Read more »

Boston Prepares for Impacts of Climate Change

Posted on November 19th, 2014 by Gail Fithian in Government Information


Last month, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the City of Boston will be convening a regional summit to better prepare Greater Boston for the impacts of climate change. The announcement also marked the kickoff of an international design competition focused on climate preparedness, as well as an update of the City of Boston’s ongoing climate efforts. Read the 2014 Draft Climate Action Plan for Public Comment, which was released on November 10.

“There is no issue more urgent than climate action. When we work together, the steps we take do more than protect us: they can bring us closer together, they can create good jobs, they can improve our health, our public space, and our civic life,” said Mayor Walsh. “I look forward to working closely with the MAPC, the Metro Mayor’s Coalition, and the Commonwealth on this critical issue.”

The half-day summit, which will be held at the University of Massachusetts Boston next spring, is a first-of-its-kind convening on regional climate preparedness and will establish a mechanism for coordination of regional, cross-government action going forward. It will include regional and state agencies such as MassPort, MassDOT, and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), as well as Mayors from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s (MAPC) Metro Mayor’s Coalition. The Metro Mayor’s Coalition includes Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Melrose, Medford, Quincy, Revere, Somerville, Brookline, Winthrop, and Braintree.

To learn more about the impact of climate change on our city and the world, please see these links. Read more »

The Science of Innovation

Posted on August 21st, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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Check out a video series called The Science of Innovation, created by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the National Science Foundation, and NBC Learn.

The site currently has eleven videos exploring various processes of innovation in these areas:


  • Smart Concrete
  • Self-driving Cars
  • Electronic Tattoos
  • Fuel Cell Efficiency
  • Biometrics
  • Biofuels
  • Anti-Counterfeiting Devices
  • Synthetic Diamonds
  • Bionic Limbs
  • Innovation
  • 3D Printing


Four Interesting Data Visualization Sites

Posted on August 18th, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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Cool data visualization pages proliferate.

Probably the most graphically stunning is A Handsome Atlas  from Brooklyn Brainery, with its colorful and imaginative visualizations of nineteenth century census data.

Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks  takes data from the US Census Bureau’s 2007 through 2011 American Community Survey to map  income data on income and rent. Data can be displayed by street address, zip code, census tract number, or city, and comparisons to state medians are also shown.

Bostonography was developed by two “cartography geeks”. It  includes maps on themes such as distances to liquor stores and Dunkin’ Donuts locations.  The site is also attempting to define some of Boston’s disputed neighborhood boundaries by crowdsourcing  “collective definitions of Boston’s neighborhoods by its residents and those who know the city well.”

Gapminder bills itself as  “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”  Its data page contains visualizations on 513 socioeconomic indicators by country. The same data is also available to download to spreadsheets. The rest of the site is also worth checking out, particularly the Joy of Stats documentary.

Boston Puts Its Data Online

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 by Gail Fithian in Government Information
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 2010 Census data is now available by neighborhood from the Boston Redevelopment Authority

For the first time, the public may access the data that made up 134 reports on Boston’s neighborhoods, planning districts, the 2010 Census, and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey.  

The 2010 Census includes information on population, sex, age, race, housing occupancy and household type; the American Community Survey features more detailed characteristics such as place of birth, employment status, and languages spoken at home.  For example, to find Brighton’s median household income, enter “Brighton median household income” into the search bar on the Boston Data Portal, then click “Brighton, neighborhood data: American Community Survey 2005-2009″.  After downloading the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, click the “Economic” tab;  Brighton’s “Median Household Income”  is listed first.

Students, researchers, and others seeking economic, demographic, and housing information about Boston’s neighborhoods now have data at their fingertips.

The release of the data is part of Mayor Menino’s strategy for open government and transparency.  The BRA Research Division will make the data for future reports available via the Boston Data Portal.