New: The Launch of the CUTGroup Book

The CUTGroup Book is here.

The CUTGroup Book is here.

Smart Chicago is a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology. We work on increasing access to the Internet, improving skills for using Internet, and developing meaningful products from data that measurably contribute to the quality of life of residents in our region and beyond.

We are a startup that was founded in part by our municipal government and nurtured by some of its most venerable institutions. Our founding partners are the City of Chicago, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The Chicago Community Trust. As a funding collaborative, we help bring together municipal, philanthropic, and corporate investments in civic innovation.

We have a host of current projects and partnerships, and we are actively seeking to connect ideas and resources in all areas of philanthropy in Chicago.

Webitects & Juvenile Law Center launch site to compare policies across states

Yesterday, Webitects and Juvenile Law Center released a new site  called  Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures–A Nationwide Scorecard on Juvenile Records.


It compares how states treat juvenile records and proposes that youth should be better protected from the harmful effects of their juvenile records, including making expungement easier.

The Juvenile Law Center graded states by two measures. The first was each state’s ability to keep juvenile records confidential. The second was the ease in which these records could be expunged. The sites lets you explore the data using the map or a list or ratings.

Illinois gets two out of four stars for confidentiality because there are many offense-based exceptions to confidentiality and some records can be made available to the general public.  Illinois scored slightly higher on expungement, but would have scored higher had expungement been more automatic.

You can check out the site by going to their website here: http://juvenilerecords.jlc.org/juvenilerecords/#!/map/total 

If you have an interest in state health data, the Governor’s Office of Health Innovation and Transformation (GOHIT) is holding an Open Data Survey to get feedback from the community. The survey closes Monday night and can be found here: https://www.research.net/s/ILopendata


Access Gaps Session at Chicago School of Data Days

Note: During Chicago School of Data Days, Smart Chicago hired a corps of documenters to take notes, write, photograph, and record our conference sessions. We want to feature some of our documenter’s writing in a series of blog posts. Our first post is from Genevieve Nielsen who wrote about the Access Gaps Session from the first day of Chicago School of Data Days. You can also watch the video of the session here.

9 19 14 Access Gap Session (6)

As the Chicago School of Data evolves, the accessibility of reliable data remains a challenge to its growth. In fact, Kathy Pettit of the Urban Institute began the conference by mentioning that looking for data often feels like “looking for a needle in a haystack.” The Chicago School of Data Conference began with three sessions under the heading of “Gaps” to discuss how organizations are currently using data and how to improve accessibility.


Key Takeaways and Raw Responses to Chicago School of Data Census Form

As part of our post- Chicago School of Data Days work, we are doing lots of analysis of the data we’ve collected and the artifacts we created together.

One key dataset, especially for the consideration of gaps in data provision and skills development, are the answers to the census form we’ve been working on for months. We’ve got 246 responses to date. Here they are, with identifying information and end-matter (re: how they want to be contacted, participation in the project, etc.) removed.



The census form was a key part of the Chicago School of Data project and the conference.  We took responses from this survey to better understand how data was used by organizations and responded by creating themes that defined the conference sessions and discussions.

Here are the themes that we came to: