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.

Attend the Next Meeting of the Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee

The next meeting of the Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is coming up. Details as follows:

Digital Divide Elimination Advisory Committee
James R. Thompson Center 100 W. Randolph
St. Ste. 3-400
(Director’s Conference Room)
Chicago, IL 60601

Thursday, November 6, 2014
10:00 am – 11:30 a.m.

Here’s a folder of documents relating to the Committee’s work since I became chair. And here’s some relevant documents for our meeting:

Meantime, here’s a photo I took when I was in Springfield recently:

Old Capitol, Springfield, IL

Eliminate the Digital Divide Advisory Committee Capstone Project

uic_logo_large_blue_revI serve as the chair of the Eliminate the Digital Divide Advisory Committee of the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Recently I worked with fellow committee member Norm Peterson of Argonne National Laboratory to submit an application under the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Public Administration MPA Capstone program, “which provides MPA students with a practical, team-based experience in problem-solving within public or nonprofit organizations”.


Knight Community Information Challenge Project in Full Swing

This month I spent some time with Terry Mazany, Daniel Ash, and some of our colleagues from other community foundations in a series of design thinking sessions with the Knight Foundation in the context of their Community Information Challenge.

Here’s a blog post from Knight summarizing all of the great work in this program,  Foundations take on projects to improve local news and information,  and here’s a snip:

Chicago, meanwhile, has plenty of news media that are city-focused, but they are also feeling the pinch of shrinking revenues. The Chicago Community Trust, then, takes a different approach to local information by keying in on what’s deficient: boosting citizen engagement and building technology for Chicago-area residents to use in gathering and analyzing information and public data themselves. It’s information self-empowerment driven by technology. This approach channels what journalism professor and media provocateur Jeff Jarvis advocates when he writes: “The internet has proven to be good at helping communities inform themselves.”

A core component of the Trust’s information strategy is the Smart Chicago Collaborative, headed by technologist and EveryBlock co-founder Daniel X. O’Neil. Smart Chicago works to lessen the “digital divide” by helping more Chicagoans gain access to the Internet, then takes the next step by creating data-oriented Web applications designed for use by the public. Getting people to use the applications is accomplished in various ways, including “Civic User Testing” groups, a set of Chicago residents who get paid (modest amounts) to test civic apps. (And watch for an “Unsummit” in 2015 that will bring out the community around neighborhoods data collected and analyzed by Chicagoans using these apps.)

Meantime, here’s a picture I took of the house that was used in the movie, “A Christmas Story”, including the leg lamp!

A Christmas Story House, Cleveland, at Night

A Christmas Story House, Cleveland, at Night