Documentation from the Array of Things Public Meeting at Lozano Library

We’ve compiled documentation from the Array of Things Public Meeting on June 14, 2016 at the Lozano Library Branch. This is part of our Array of Things Civic Engagement project — a series of community meetings and feedback loops to create dialogue around the Array of Things project, collect community input on privacy, and introduce concepts around how the Internet of Things can benefit communities.

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The purpose of the Array of Things Public Meeting was to educate the public on the Array of Things project and help facilitate community feedback on the Array of Things Governance & Privacy policy. These were open meetings in Chicago Public Library Branches. No knowledge of technology or sensors was equired to be a welcome, meaningful addition to the event.


Smart Chicago created album on Flickr with all photographs from the event. Here is a selection:

Social Media

Here is a Storify of the meeting created by Smart Chicago.


Below is the flyer used to the promote the event. Smart Chicago documenters tasked with outreach distributed flyers and event information around the city, focusing in particular on community spaces in Pilsen — churches, computer centers, libraries, small businesses, etc.

Here is an agenda that was distributed at the meeting:

Here is a map distributed at the meeting that showcases the possible Array of Things Sensor node locations:

Here is the full text of the privacy policy that was distributed during the event also found online at this link:

Here is a one-pager distributed to meeting participates describing how they can provide feedback on the policy:

Here is a letter submitted in person by the community coalition, FAiR:


Here are the slides that Charlie Catlett of UrbanCCD used at the event:


Below are the detailed notes from the event which we continue to compile and improve. Very important disclaimer: this is an unofficial record of proceedings and not an exact transcript of the event — rather, a summary of the conversation. We are certain that there are errors and omissions in this document. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact Smart Chicago here.

This documentation is made possible by our Smart Chicago Documenters Program. Our Documenters program is an essential tool for us to add new thinkers, generate ideas, and expand the field for civic tech. The Program played an important role in other Smart Chicago Projects like the Chicago School of Data and the Police Accountability Meeting coverage. Nourhy Chiriboga and Liz Baudler assisted with event outreach.  Veronica Benson assisted with event outreach, notes, and pictures. Jackie Serrato took pictures. Lucia Gonzalez provided Spanish language support.

The Internet of Things in Action

This blog post is by Glynis Startz — Smart Chicago’s Harvard Ash Center Summer Fellow. Glynis is assisting with Smart Chicago’s Array of Things Civic Engagement work, among other smart cities-focused projects. Glynis is a Master in Public Policy Candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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Last month Smart Chicago wrote about civic engagement and the Internet of Things in Aberdeen, Scotland. Given the conversations & questions at the public meetings for the Array of Things project, we wanted to explore and share some examples of the Internet of Things (IoT) around the world.

IoT is defined as

“the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.”

Unless you work in technology or ‘Smart Cities’ it can be difficult to mentally translate the concept of the IoT to the reality. Imagining how the Internet of Things will affect the way your city is run, or how you interact with the government or your environment, is hard without some reference points. Here are a couple of ways the Internet of Things is currently being used, and how it has affected citizens and cities.

IoT in our backyard

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If you live in Chicago (or in hundreds of other places), you’re throwing your trash into the IoT. Smart waste removal is intended to save money and keep things cleaner through better timed trash pickups. The solar powered Bigbelly trash compactors the city has used since 2011 are one of the most visible examples of the IoT in action. Bigbelly trash cans send information back to a hub about how full they are, and indicate when they need to be emptied. Philadelphia was an early adopter of the now ubiquitous cans, and reported savings of around $900,000 in the first year. (The program isn’t without its critics, of course, with reports of overflowing cans in some areas and the usual complaints about graffiti.)

IoT far, far away

Some cities have started weaving together multiple IoT applications, creating what is often referred to as a network of networks. Laura Adler has written an article on Barcelona’s network of networks on the Ash Center blog. The city has long had an extensive network of fiber optic cable which it has used “to build out individual IoT systems across urban services.” Now, the Internet of Things is embedded in energy consumption, waste management, and transportation.

There are two distinct types of IoT applications to explore in Barcelona: ones in which citizens interact directly with technology (either their own or the city’s), and ones in which technology facilitates some government process, improving it before citizens enter the equation.

The first type includes projects like interactive bus stops to help travelers plan their routes, and a public parking pay app. ApparkB lets residents use their smartphones to pay for public parking in the city, utilizing GPS to limit the number of people who have to use traditional parking meters. IoT applications in this mold often seem like first generation tests at this point. They conform more closely to what many people think of as ‘smart’, but at this point still seem like fun toys or conveniences instead of things being built into the architecture of governance.

Projects in Barcelona that are more tied into the city’s fundamental structure are the second type of IoT applications, which operate behind the scenes. Traffic lights interact with emergency vehicles, clearing their path to an incident, which decreases response times and traffic incidents. Barcelona also uses sensors in irrigation systems to save money and water across the city. Sensors monitor and control the output of water in public spaces by evaluating data on weather, rainwater, evaporation, and drainage.

Where do we go from here?

Waste management and irrigation might seem mundane, but the most functional examples of the IoT are often the least “sexy.” They’re the ones that let citizens keep living their lives the way they did before: smoothing the rough patches off daily actions or optimizing government actions to lower costs. IoT and Smart Cities are often sold as complete reinventions of The City as we know it, and the relatively unobtrusive applications we see today can be a letdown, but implementations that promise to entirely change the way residents live or move just haven’t manifested yet. From the unfinished Smart Cities in South Korea and China, to a 50 million dollar competition for redesigning transportation in a US city, transformative smart city projects are still possibly years or decades down the road.

It seems that the more transformative a technology promises to be, the more skeptical we as citizens should be. Balancing academic and practical goals within a single implementation is a difficult task. It’s much easier to imagine what researchers will do with granular ecosystem data than imagine how those granular ecosystem data will immediately impact residents. Benefits of academic research are diffuse and long term. Conversely, projects that provide short run cost savings for a city don’t necessarily create the type of data researchers need to answer academic questions. This doesn’t mean the IoT can’t create value in both of these categories, just that residents should be wary about promises of new technology being everything to everyone right away. There’s a great deal of potential value in smart city technology and the IoT, but the type or timing of that value may look very different depending on the project.

Ways Residents Can Give Feedback on the Array of Things Governance & Privacy Policy

ArrayofThingsLogo-smallToday the draft Array of Things Governance & Privacy Policy was released. The policy discloses the privacy principles and practices for Array of Things and defines how decisions about the program are made. Residents can comment on this draft policy from June 13, 2016 to June 27, 2016. This blog post takes inventory of each way residents can contribute their voices to the draft Governance & Privacy Policy.

Annotate the Governance & Privacy Policy Using Madison

The text of the draft Governance & Privacy Policy is posted here on the OpenGov Foundation’s Madison Platform. Using Madison, residents can edit and annotate specific sections and language of the policy. Using this co-creation web tool aligns with Smart Chicago civic engagement model & goals.

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See this video to get more information on how to sign up for and use Madison:

Comment on the Policy Using this Online Form

In addition to or instead of using Madison, residents are invited to submit comments and questions on the policy through this form also below:

Attend a Public Meeting

To learn more about the Array of Things and give feedback on the Governance & Privacy policy in person, all are invited to the scheduled public meetings:

Food will be served. Smart Chicago documenters will record, archive, and share the proceedings from these meetings.


Smart Chicago will synthesize and analyze residents’ comments from Madison, the online form, and the public meetings. We seek to facilitate a process where smart city infrastructure like the Array of Things is built for and with everyone. We want to spur a conversation about data, sensors, privacy, and the Internet of Things and how these innovations can be put in service to the people of Chicago.

Find all of the background information, writing, and work for Smart Chicago’s Array of Things Civic Engagement work on here.

Youth-Led Tech Locations

Youth-led Tech Summer 2016 is a technology mentoring program for youth ages 13-18 in three Chicago neighborhoods: Austin, North Lawndale, and Roseland. If the youth is 12 and will turn 13 by 8/5/16, they are also eligible to apply.  Visit Youth-led Tech for more information about the program.

We are happy to announce our community location partners for summer 2016!


Austin Community Center
501 N. Central Avenue
Chicago, IL 60644

New Kingdom Church
5213 W. Potomac
Chicago, IL 60651

Sankofa Cultural Arts & Business Center
5820 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60651

North Lawndale

Better Boys Foundation
1512 S. Pulaski
Chicago, IL 60623

Chicago Youth Centers/ABC Polk Bros (Second Year)
3415 W. 13th Place
Chicago, IL 60623

Firehouse Community Arts Center
2111 South Hamlin
Chicago, IL 60623


Dr. Elzie Young Community Center (YCC) (Second Year)
9400 South Perry Avenue
Chicago, IL 60620

New Life Church
11026 S. Indiana
Chicago, IL 60628

Youth Peace Center
420 W. 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60620

We are still recruiting for Youth Applicants!  The deadline to apply is Friday, June 17th.

If the youth is:

  • Between the ages of 13-18 or will turn age 13 by 8/5/16
  • A resident of the City of Chicago
  • Resides in either the Austin, North Lawndale, or Roseland communities
  • Interested in Tech
  • Wants to be in a safe, nurturing, learning environment
  • Needs help with building up social and workforce development skills

Then Apply Here

It’s going to be an amazing summer!!!

For further questions email or call 312-565-2933.

Announcing the June 22nd Array of Things Public Meeting at Harold Washington Library

As part of Smart Chicago’s Array of Things Civic Engagement Work, we’re hosting an event in in the Loop on Wednesday, June 22, 2016:

Event: Array of Things Public Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Time: 5:30pm – 7pm

Location: 400 S State St. – Harold Washington LibraryThe meeting will take place in the Lower Level Multi-Purpose Rooms A&B of Harold Washington Library. Directions to the Lower Level Multi-Purpose Rooms A&B: From the main entrance on State St., enter the Library and walk toward the main atrium. Turn left down a hallway and and follow the sign for the escalator to go downstairs. Go down the escalator and look for signs guiding you to the room.

There will be food catered by Corner Bakery – assorted sandwiches, salad, fruit, cookies, chips, and beverages

The Array of Things project is a collection of multi-purpose sensors that will collect data about the livability factors in our city like air quality, noise pollution, and flooding. These data will fuel new research about Chicago neighborhoods. This is an open meeting. Everyone is invited. No knowledge of technology or sensors is required to be a welcome, meaningful addition to the event.

Here is the flyer for this meeting:

The purpose of the Array of Things Public Meetings is educate the public on the Array of Things project and help facilitate community feedback on the Array of Things Privacy & Governance policy. You can read more about our goals and model for this work in this blog post.

If you are interested in attending the Array of Things Public Meetings or would like to receive more information about the Governance & Privacy Policy, please fill out this form:

Fill out my online form.