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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Webitects & Juvenile Law Center launch site to compare policies across states

Yesterday, Webitects and Juvenile Law Center released a new site  called  Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures–A Nationwide Scorecard on Juvenile Records.


It compares how states treat juvenile records and proposes that youth should be better protected from the harmful effects of their juvenile records, including making expungement easier.

The Juvenile Law Center graded states by two measures. The first was each state’s ability to keep juvenile records confidential. The second was the ease in which these records could be expunged. The sites lets you explore the data using the map or a list or ratings.

Illinois gets two out of four stars for confidentiality because there are many offense-based exceptions to confidentiality and some records can be made available to the general public.  Illinois scored slightly higher on expungement, but would have scored higher had expungement been more automatic.

You can check out the site by going to their website here:!/map/total 

Free your PDFs! Introduction to Tabula with Manuel Aristarán

In preparation for National Day of Civic Hacking, we wanted to show off a tool that helps liberate table data from PDFs called Tabula. Tabula is an open source tool built by Manuel Aristarán with the help of ProPublicaLa Nación DATA and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews. We sat down with Aristarán to talk about the app and give a short demo. Continue reading