Kyla Williams Co-Presents Today at Philanthropy Ohio’s Annual Conference

Today, Leon Wilson, CIO of the Cleveland Foundation, and I will co-present at the Philanthropy Ohio’s annual conference with a theme this year of “Philanthropy Forward” and a concentrated discussion on Digital Civic Engagement & Community-Centered Design. Philanthropy Forward ’17 is set to inform practices, strategies and goals and connect peers in the field of philanthropy. The conference will also focus on the future of philanthropy with insight into the current state of the sector – fueled by recent research – addressing transitions, change and the leadership pipeline. With several networking and roundtable discussions, attendees will discover how to shift failures to successes, effectively fund advocacy and civic engagement and hear from  exceptional leaders across the state and country.

Leon and I also presented in April 2017 at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference “Leading Together” as part of a panel discussion with: Aaron Deacon, Managing Director, Kansas City Digital Drive; Elizabeth Reynoso, Assistant Director of Public Sector Innovation, Living Cities; and Lilly Weinberg, Program Director/Community Foundations, John S. & James L. Knight Foundation on “Supporting Civic Engagement through Technology and Community-Centered Design”. After finishing that presentation we decided more collaborative sharing between cities was necessary and lead to this opportunity at Philanthropy Ohio.

Community building in the digital era requires providing a space for the public sector and local communities to interact. Building solutions with peoplenot just for them – by using community-centered design can have profound social impact. This has been central to Smart Chicago’s work and has lead to the building of processes, products, services, and other lightweight tech solutions that have been helpful.

Our presentation today has the learning objectives:

  • To introduce different models developed in communities to address civic engagement digitally
  • To encourage the consideration of embedding support for digital civic engagement into existing grantmaking & advancement efforts

You can follow the happenings of the conference on Twitter @PhilanthropyOH and @SmartChgoKyla or by using the hashtag #PhilFWD17.


Good News!!! The Smart Chicago team is moving and now will be co-located with the City Digital Team at UI Labs. As such, our individual emails will be changing to:

Kyla Williams 

Sonja Marziano

Denise Linn     

Leslie Durr       

Our new mailing address is 1415 N. Cherry Avenue Chicago, IL 60642 and general phone number is 312.281.6900.

Please check our website at or follow us on twitter @smartchicago for more updates.

We appreciate your patience during this time of transition.

Doctors Prescribe Data Sharing for Health Apps

Dr. Khan Siddiqui and Dr. Neelum Aggarwal

Dr. Khan Siddiqui and Dr. Neelum Aggarwal field questions after a presentation at Matter in the Merchandise Mart.

Wearable tech developers are taking the pulse of medical professionals – a reading on how useful fitness monitors will be in a clinical setting. Doctors say the biggest hurdle may be getting patients to try the gadgets and check in regularly.

“Especially in our underserved communities, a lot of the devices we’re hearing about, they’re not using them – they’re asking their kids to do it,” said Dr. Neelum Aggarwal, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Rush University Medical Center.

Elderly patients prefer to get medication reminders on flip phones., says Dr. Aggarwal, who has been taking home measurements of memory and physical functions in Chicago since 1996.

“A lot of older peoples are going to the library for Internet, they’re going to the Department of Aging – it’s not in their homes,” she told a group of mobile health developers June 10 at the Matter healthcare incubator in the Merchandise Mart. “What can people do reliably, what can people do easily, and how are you transporting that data back?”

The neurologist had similar issues in India, working with Naperville-based nonprofit Arogya World on a large-scale diabetes prevention effort. Nokia delivered text reminders to cellphone customers 3 times a week. The messages ask if they’ve been walking, taking medication and otherwise taking better care of themselves.

“In India we’re seeing the thin diabetic, people who aren’t eating as much but are at risk because of metabolic syndrome,” Aggarwal said, citing the common conditions that lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “This is a program based on the simple basic question, did you do this?”

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At LexHacks, Coders Make Case for Legal Reform


Kingsley Martin (standing) talks legalese with developers at WeWork Chicago.

This is the full report from Stephen Rynkiewicz on a National Day of Civic Hacking event, part of our Documentor Program.

The word heretofore hasn’t come up at a hackathon till now. But a roomful of developers are trying to define it, and thereby make the law simpler.

Lawyer Kingsley Martin sets them them straight. “Heretofore almost doesn’t have a meaning,” Martin says. “Many of these words you can just cross out and see if it changes the meaning, and in many cases it doesn’t.”

Developers gathered June 6 at Chicago’s WeWork, a shared office space. Early in the LexHacks event, they’re pressing Martin and other lawyers for resources that can help them win one or more of a half-dozen coding competitions.

Master of ceremonies Daniel W. Linna Jr., a Michigan State University law professor, thinks hackathons will attract advocates, project managers and data scientists as well as coders.

“I want lawyers to step up and embrace these technologies, so that we don’t have 80 percent of folks who have a need go without legal services,” explains Linna, an organizer of the Chicago Legal Innovation & Technology Meetup group. “We can do work with developers, designers, technologists, data analysts, lean thinkers to do that.”

Big law firms and tech startups already are automating trial discovery and other parts of the legal process. “Corporations were saying we can’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to manually review these mountains of electronically stored documents in litigation, or to conduct diligence in a large transaction,” he says. “That same technology has potential in so many other areas, predicting outcomes in cases.“

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Launch of Chicago Health Atlas 3.0

Last week we launched our third major update to our Chicago Health Atlas project.  This is the most robust version of the Atlas released since its debut in 2012. The Atlas is funded and receives significant thought leadership from the Otho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute. Sprague, and their Executive Director Jim Alexander, has shepherded this program for years.

Chicago Health Atlas, along with all of our other health products like Foodborne Chicago and Smart Health Centers, is managed by Smart Chicago Director of Operations Kyla Williams with lots of help from Program Coordinator Sonja Marziano.

Chicago Health Atlas 1.0

Chicago Health Atlas 1.0

The first version of the Atlas was a simple lookup tool for existing data. DataMade, a local firm that builds custom visualizations, deploys civic apps, and trains people to work with open data, has been an essential tech partner all the way through to this version. The site is based on the Derek Eder’s wildly influential and immensely useful Searchable Map Template. Derek was also important in helping me move from the Weave (Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment) platform and set up a structure that met Smart Chicago’s vision for the site.

Last year we conducted a CUTgroup test on the Atlas and found that users were a little confused with the original navigation.

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The Chicago Red Cross shows us the power of open source

On Tuesday November 18th, Jim McGowan with the Red Cross of Greater Chicago gave a presentation at OpenGov Hack Night about their open source project: DCSops.


The Red Cross uses DCSops to manage their situational awareness information and dispatch volunteers to an incident. This is a huge change from January when they were using carbon paper to record information about incidents.

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