The MetroBridge Program

MetroBridge unlocks the knowledge at Boston University to help under-resourced municipalities in Massachusetts, while also educating students on the vital role local government plays in strengthening communities.

We provide a centralized office that cultivates project partnerships across the entire university that are responsive to the needs of city and town governments.

The MetroBridge program connects with local governments to understand their priorities, and then collaborates with Boston University faculty to create tailored course projects for each community.

Partner with MetroBridge

We’re currently accepting project proposals for the Spring 2020 semester. Email MetroBridge Program Manager Emily Robbins at to learn more.

Recent MetroBridge Projects

Exploring Homelessness and Housing Insecurity in Chelsea, MA
Assistant Professor Jessica Simes, CAS Sociology
The City of Chelsea asked BU students to study who are the homeless in the city and how are they faring, and also what types of services are needed to serve homeless populations. Sociology students responded to this research question by conducting in-person interviews with stakeholders, completing ethnographies of various locations in the city, and compiling literature reviews on various aspects of homelessness. The MetroBridge report outlines the key takeaways from these data collection methods. (Read the full report.)

Surveying Residents on City Service Delivery in Everett, MA
Assistant Professor Katherine Levine Einstein, CAS Political Science
A survey developed by Political Science students and distributed to residents of Everett aimed to identify residents’ opinions on, and experiences with, the quality and accessibility of public services. Participants were asked about services ranging from garbage collection to parking to policing, as well as basic demographic questions. Statistical analyses conducted on the survey data indicate discrepancies in residents’ experience along income, racial, and homeownership lines. This report discusses the results of these analyses, which cumulatively suggest a lower quality, accessibility, and satisfaction among several city services for low-income residents, minority residents, and renters in the City of Everett. (Read the full report.)

Proposed Strategies for Increasing Ridership on Bus Rapid Transit in Everett, MA
Associate Professor David Glick, CAS Political Science
In order to better understand how to expand the use of more sustainable transit options, particularly Bus Rapid Transit, the City of Everett is seeking more information about strategies for encouraging residents to utilize existing bus or other active transportation options. Two teams of Political Science students explored this challenge over the course of the semester, and each offer a set of recommendations to the City of Everett. (Read the full report.)

Approaches to Surveying Residents’ Experiences with Airplane Noise in Milton, MA
Assistant Professor Spencer Piston, CAS Political Science
The Town of Milton collaborated with MetroBridge to explore how to more effectively measure residents’ experiences with aircraft noise. Previous efforts to assess community disruption caused by low-flying airplanes proved to be insufficient, according to town officials. This report includes three key pieces of information: a survey instrument of resident survey questions, a review of methodological approaches, and an overview of the Community Noise Lab and Sounds in the City. (Read the full report.)

Exploring Models for Downtown Food Markets in New Bedford, MA
Professor Joseph LiPuma, QST Strategy and Innovation
Students in the BU Questrom School of Business explored the feasibility of bringing various types of food markets to scale in downtown New Bedford. The feasibility study compiled and compared data on four distinct models: traditional grocer, co-op food market, pop-up food stall, and farmers’ market. For each of these models, the business students analyzed the feasibility for success in downtown New Bedford based on financial, operational, real estate, infrastructure, and other market conditions. (Read the full report.)

Planning Studio in the Quest Center District in New Bedford, MA
Julie Conroy, MET City Planning and Urban Affairs
The New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) challenged City Planning students with developing proposals for how to turn the downtown Quest Center District into a vibrant and productive mixed-use corridor. Specifically, the NBEDC would like to transform the Quest Center District into a campus-like setting for start-up activity and housing/studio space for artists. Students toured the study area and met with city staff to better understand the infrastructure, connectivity, and economic conditions in the area. The final report presents proposals from each of the student teams. (Read the full report.)

Redesigning the City Budget Website for Quincy, MA
Assistant Professor Lei Guo, COM Emerging Media Studies
Emerging Media Studies students assisted the City of Quincy by redesigning (via prototype) an easier-to-read and more user-friendly budget website. According to key staff in the City of Quincy, the budget website is one of the most frequently viewed sub-pages on the city’s website. However, the style, content, and functionality of the current site makes it difficult for residents to find information. The website redesign aimed to highlight key financial information and create better search functionality. (Read the full report.)

Exploring How to Regulate Short-Term Home Share Rentals in Watertown, MA
Associate Professor David Glick, CAS Political Science
Massachusetts recently passed a law regulating short-term rentals and giving cities and towns more regulatory and taxation power over home sharing services. Watertown officials asked for recommendations on regulatory strategies and approaches to enforcement. Political Science students compiled research and analysis for town officials to consider, including: a summary of new guidelines from the state legislation, a literature review on home sharing’s local impacts, a series of case studies, analysis of resident survey data on attitudes towards home sharing, and assessments of existing home sharing activity in Watertown. (Read the full report.)

Innovating Solutions to Public Health Challenges in Winthrop, MA
Professor Carrie Preston, Kilachand Honors College
The Town of Winthrop’s Public Health Department collaborated with the MetroBridge program to explore three of the greatest health-related challenges facing the town. These challenges are: creating a culture of consent; empowering school-aged children to be informed health consumers; and addressing the airport’s effects on community health. This report presents students’ key recommendations for consideration by Winthrop’s Public Health Director. (Read the full report.)

BU Spark! Projects
MetroBridge collaborated with BU Spark! on two student projects:
Developing a City Score Dashboard for Chelsea, MA
Visualizing Gentrification in Chelsea, MA 

Contact Us

Emily Robbins
MetroBridge Program Manager | 617-358-8084

Prof. David Glick
MetroBridge Faculty Director | 617-358-8084