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.

Resources and Reading Toward a Digital City

One of our programs is Connect Chicago, a loose network of more than 250 places where you can use a computer for free. It is a central part of our work around both access to the Internet and digital skills.

I also serve as the chair the of the Eliminate the Digital Divide Advisory Committee of the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development Eliminate the Digital Divide Grant Program.

In measuring the impact of the work of Connect Chicago members, we spend a lot of time gathering research. Here’s a look at some of the publications we look to for guidance.

Digital Citizenship: The-Internet society and Participation

Digital Citizenship: The-Internet society and Participation


Tweets Identify Food Poisoning Outbreaks

In Chicago monitoring Twitter for reports of food poisoning led to 133 restaurant inspections for health violations, with 21 establishments shut down. Dina Fine Maron reports.
During a 10-month stretch last year, staff members at the health agency responded to 270 tweets about “food poisoning.” Based on those tweets, 193 complaints were filed and 133 restaurants in the city were inspected. Twenty-one were closed down and another 33 were forced to fix health violations. That’s according to a study in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.[Jenine K. Harris et al, Health Department Use of Social Media to Identify Foodborne Illness — Chicago, Illinois, 2013–2014]