Smart Chicago and the Chicago Department of Transportation launch Textizen campaign for placemaking

CDOT Textizen Poster

We’re partnering with the Chicago Department of Public Transportation to help get citizen feedback on their Chicago Complete Streets Program.

CDOT is using flyers and posters on the Chicago Transit Authority asking Chicago residents to take a quick text survey about how they want to see Chicago’s street spaces improved.

Smart Chicago is helping CDOT through our CivicWorks Project through our Textizen account. Textizen’s web platform sends, receives, and analyzes text messages so you can reach the people you serve with the technology already in their pocket, 24/7.

We are a customer of Textizen because we believe in their product and we believe in helping them make it even better. By connecting them with organizations like CDOT, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for their Public Art Plan, and the Metropolitan Planning Council for transit-oriented development in Logan Square, we’re able to fund not just projects, but products.

All of this leads to a stronger civic innovation sector of the technology industry, one that can support itself with revenue driven by software that people love.

Christopher Whitaker runs the CivicWorks project and has been his amazing self in pulling together this initiaitve. CDOT has also launched a campaign on to get ideas from Chicago residents about placemaking in Chicago.

For more information, you can visit CDOT’s Complete Streets website at If you would like to get started on your own texting campaign for civic engagement, take a look at our Developer Resources.


New Dataset from the City Clerk’s Office: Residential Parking Zones

This morning, Susana Mendoza, the City Clerk of Chicago,  is set to release a new dataset to the City’s data portal: residential parking zone data. Here’s a link: The data provides the starting and end points of all street segments that the City Council has designated as parking for residents.

WIcker Park, Late November Morning with Bright Sun

This data set is already going to have several organizations (including us) using the data. We’ll outline the efforts below the fold:

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Chicago launches a new PlowTracker

Chicago has seen it’s first snow flurries – which can only mean one thing…the return of Chicago’s PlowTracker! This year, it’s been updated with new features to help residents find where the plows are.

A line of snow plows barricades Roosevelt Road

In previous iterations, the plow tracker showed one icon regardless of the direction it’s moving. Now, the icons have been updated to indicated the direction of the plow. The map itself is also bigger and displays snowfall readings for the current storm.

The Plow Tracker can be found here and will be activated during major snow events.

Join the City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology

The City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology is hiring a Senior Database Analyst to help coordinate the operationalization of their data research.

City Hall 4

City Hall, Photo by Chris Smith

We talked with Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk Jr to learn more about the work of the Department of Innovation and Technology and the position he’s hiring for.

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Use 311? Want to make it better? – Comment here!

The City of Chicago is currently in the process of revamping the 311 system. The 311 system is what the city uses to coordinate and dispatch city services. Every year, this system takes millions of calls regarding potholes, graffiti, food poisoning, street lights being out, rat sightings, and more. The 311 system currently in use is pretty old for software – almost fourteen years.  The City recently put out an request for proposal to build a new 311 system that will focus on improving the interaction between residents and city government.

Graffiti Blasters

As part of this process, the city created ChIdeas. They want your feedback. What do you think of the current system and what ideas do you have to improve it? 

To do this, the City is using an app called MindMixer. Mindmixer allows you to submit ideas as well as vote up ideas that you also like.  For example, Steve Vance has suggested increasing the number of service request types.

The feedback period closes in two weeks – so visit the site today and give your feedback!

This site is an online platform to provide opportunities for government and citizens to work together by connecting civic challenges to community problem-solvers. We believe the best way to tackle challenges that affect the community is with the community. By using a platform that allows members of the community to contribute from their own homes and on their own schedules, we believe that we will be able to engage a broader audience. And with this broader audience comes a broader range of ideas, solutions and participation. So, who should participate on this site? You! We want your ideas, your feedback, your comments and your point of view. Together, we can build a better community!