All posts by Daniel X. O'Neil

Foodborne Chicago, Humans, and Big Data on the Data Mine Blog

Here’s a post on the U.S. News & World Report Data Mine blog covering our Foodborne Chicago project: How Twitter and Your Lunch Can Solve Problems. Here’s a snip:

Daniel O’Neil, the executive director of Smart Chicago, who worked with the government on the algorithm, said the project is an example of how big data can be used by health professionals to help people.

“I think the field of big data often removes human beings from consideration,” he says. “Big data, as I see it being practiced, there’s very little direct engagement with people. All the data related to health care is generated from human beings and is crucial to the health and wellness of human beings. I think this project shows one way for big data to always be driven down to the human being and helping people. We need to always take it from big to small and always find out how technology can be of big use to people.”

The Launch of the CUTGroup Book

Today we’re launching a website and book, The CUTGroup Book,, centered around propagating the components, tools, and methods of our Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup) program.

The CUTGroup is a set of regular Chicago residents who get paid to test civic apps. We started the program in February 2013 and it has grown to include 800 people. We’ve learned a lot and we want to share.

We cover the hardware and software you need, methods for tester and developer recruitment, test design, location scouting, and results analysis. We show detailed budgets, exact website configurations, complete text of recruitment emails, the raw results of every test we’ve conducted, and all the other nuts and bolts it takes to make a CUTGroup in your city.

You can download a PDF of the book for free or order it as a real book on Amazon. Also read about the contributions of dozens of people who made this thing happen.


All hail the people of CUTGroup!

Chicago Region’s Civic Innovation Community at the Code for America Summit!

This week is a great week for civic innovation—the Code for America Summit in San Francisco is here. Smart Chicago will be there in force. I will be there, as well as consultants Christopher Whitaker and Josh Kalov. (Along with about a dozen other representatives from Chicago’s civic hacking community)

2013_1015_071337 CfASummit

We’ll be live tweeting the event on our @SmartChicago account, but you can also follow along using the #CfAsummit hashtag. Below the fold, we’ve all the details of the Chicago area delegation.