Women in Tech Speakers Series

Co-authored by Kyla Williams and Derek Eder

Smart Chicago Collaborative and Chi Hack Night have teamed up to create a speaking series in celebration of Women’s History Month in an effort to elevate the talented, diverse women in civic-driven technology across Chicago.

Too often in the tech space we hear about what people do or what product they have made and less about their personal narratives. In this series, we encourage our speakers to share their stories as a transformative learning and inspirational opportunity.

Additionally, we acknowledge the lack of diversity in the civic tech community and believe that becoming more community-based with easier opportunities for engagement and gaining experience will spurn interest in the field and potentially serve as an economic solution to fill technology vacancies in Chicago.

This partnership is especially timely considering Smart Chicago is currently an all women team fighting the good fight on behalf of civic technology and engagement and Chi Hack Night has set a priority area of focus on diversifying its thriving developer community.

The Women in Tech Speakers Series will coincide with the four weekly Chi Hack Night events that occur on Tuesdays at Braintree in Merchandise Mart for the month of March.

Additionally, two community events will be held on Wednesday, March 29th in Homan Square and Thursday March 30th at the DuSable Museum.

It’s important to ensure we are not just highlighting women in technology and their respective stories, but also their roles within the field. Further, if we are going to influence a paradigm shift and draw more interest into the field, demystifying roles and types of opportunities is necessary. We are hopeful that we will be able to continue this partnership and related activities on an ongoing basis, as this is important work.

Event #1 – March 7th, 6pm

The Speaker Series kicks off tonight March 7th with special guest Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP – sold out!

Event #2 – March 14th, 6pm

Next week will feature Sandee Kastrul, president and co-founder of i.c.stars, an innovative nonprofit leadership and technology training program founded in 1999 to prepare inner-city adults for technology careers and community leadership.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz,8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP

Event #3 – March 21st, 6pm

Our third event will feature Melissa Pierce, Director of “Born with Curiosity: The Story of Grace Murray Hopper”, an independent documentary about Grace Hopper, who in 1944, was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz,8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP

Event #4 – March 28th

On Tuesday, March 28th, we will welcome Robin Robinson, a longtime Chicago television news anchor turned special advisor on community affairs for the Chicago Police Department. In her talk, Robin will discuss the role she has taken on and the work needed to rebuild trust between the Chicago Police Department and the communities it serves. We also welcome the Chicago Federation for Women as they share their Talk It Out initiative, a weeklong conversation series designed to spark understanding about gender bias and the ways it affects women and men.

Braintree
222 W Merchandise Mart Plz, 8th Floor
Chicago, IL 60654

RSVP

Event #5 – Creators & Founders: Women in Civic Tech

Wednesday, March 29th we will welcome a panel of creators and founders, with speakers Allyson Scrutchens of Forward Planning and Dima Elissa of VisMed-3D.              

Homan Square Community Center
3517 W. Arthington Street
Chicago, IL 60624

RSVP

Event #6 – Amplifiers of Community Voice: Women in Civic Tech

Thursday March 30th  we will welcome a panel of amplifiers of community voice with speakers Andrea Hart of City Bureau, Aviva Rosman of Ballot Ready, and Tiana Epps-Johnson of Center for Tech and Civic Life.

DuSable Museum-Auditorium
740 East 56th Place
Chicago, IL 60637

RSVP

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating Women’s History Month and Chicago’s unique and amazing civic technology community. Here’s to Women’s History Month and fruitful partnerships!

 

Youth-Led Tech 2016 Innovations

 Youth-Led Tech 2016 is in the books, however the work that was done in partnership with the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center  (JTDC) and Nancy B. Jefferson School is still resonating. This being my first year with Smart Chicago and performing in my role as Youth-Led Tech Project Coordinator was everything I thought it would be; innovating, engaging, inspiring and fulfilling. We undertook a groundbreaking opportunity working with 50 youth students at JTDC. Over the course of several months and numerous meetings, Smart Chicago received the nod to present Youth-Led Tech at JTDC, and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) granted approval for the Youth-Led Tech program to provide the .5 credits high school students needed towards their graduation requirement. JTDC residents without a high school diploma or GED are required to attend school during their stay.

Access and Skills

The JTDC program presented unique challenges due to the high security levels in the facility. These challenges were overcome with the development of a modulated curriculum on a closed platform which allowed the JTDC students to experience the technology training and develop their websites in a nearly identical format as the community students. The six week curriculum was modified to three weeks for this pilot to meet the specific needs of this population. During each of the three week sessions we served two cohorts of students.

Students who successfully completed the program were awarded certificates of completion at a graduation held in their honor where they presented their websites to proud family members, friends, JTDC staff members, and teachers. Similar to the community program youth were also provided with an earned learning incentive of keeping the laptop used during the program. Students completing the Youth-Led Tech program and are released on or before 12/31/2016, can contact Smart Chicago to retrieve the laptop and be formally connected to other programming as a recidivism prevention opportunity.

“Smart Chicago is committed to providing ongoing opportunities to support and connect our youth to services that will provide increase access to resources, especially those that touch tech in an effort to sustain and improve the quality of their lives. JTDC students, although currently involved in the juvenile justice, are bright, innovative, and full of potential. The Youth-Led Tech JTDC program pilot proved that if challenged to learn, make better decisions, increased access to technology and tools, and inspiring hope through redemptive opportunities, many of these youth have the ability to be positively contributing community members. We all should want that.” Kyla Williams, Interim Executive Director, Smart Chicago Collaborative

Creative Career Day

Along with the intensive technology training the students at JTDC/NBJ also participated in the 7th Annual Creative Career Day event. This event is a one day opportunity for the students to interact with the Arts and Culture community to visualize employment opportunities in those sectors. This year the event was expanded to include traditional and non-traditional business and tech occupations. Students had the privilege to hear from over 19 organizations and and interact with nearly 40 professionals.

The impact of both programs can be seen in the comments from the presenters as well as the students:

“…thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity to reach out to youth.  It is an important event and I look forward to next year.”  Dr. Lorri Glass, Governor’s State University

“I truly appreciate the opportunities this summer with your programs, they definitely made an impact on my life and I was honored. David Wilkins, RallyCap

“It was the best one ever!” “I could see myself doing that.” “The people had real stories about their life.” Student Comment

Statements like these are part of the reasons why Smart Chicago strives to innovate around solutions and make data driven decisions. Due to the noted success of the program, JTDC administration has requested programming for the Fall 2016/Winter 2017. Youth-Led Tech staff are currently working on a proposal to support meeting that request. 

Announcing the September 2016 Connect Chicago Meetup: Connectivity, Training & Resources in Public Housing

chalogoAt the next Connect Chicago Meetup, we’ll be learning about the new connectivity, training, and device programs available at Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) sites. This will be our first off-site Connect Chicago Meetup where, in addition to learning from peers and partners in the digital equity field, we will also see Chicago’s learning spaces in person! New programs and resources for public housing residents will be showcased and Meetup attendees will get to learn more about CHA computer labs and the work of CHA digital literacy trainers.

Event: Connectivity, Training & Resources in Public Housing

Where: Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center — 4859 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL

When: Friday, September 30th from 11am to 1pm (lunch will be served)

Come meet and network with computer trainers, nonprofit professionals,  technologists, and fellow residents who care about digital access & skills in Chicago. Please RSVP here so we can get an accurate count for lunch. Thank you!

Here’s more information about the new developments and programs supporting public housing residents:

The Meetup will feature speakers from Comcast, the Chicago Housing Authority, and the Digital Youth Network.

The Connect Chicago Meetup is a monthly gathering of computer trainers, nonprofit professionals, and fellow residents who care about the digital lives of Chicagoans. Email Denise Linn, Program Analyst at Smart Chicago, with any questions, concerns or ideas: dlinn@cct.org

 

 

Chicago Health Atlas Updates

Health & Disability Advocates (HDA) and Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added a new data set to the Chicago Health Atlas. Demographic and population health data is now available by Hospital Service Area. HDA and CDPH co-conven the Healthy Chicago Hospital Collaborative one of the largest hospital collaborations in the United States. The Collaborative strives for health improvement across Chicago making Access to Care, Mental Health, and Obesity top priorities.

 “This new data set is the first time, to our knowledge that population health has been made available at the Hospital Service Area level. These data will help hospitals in their efforts to better understand the needs of the communities they serve, not just their own patients.”- Erica Salem, MPH, Director of Strategic Health Initiatives, Health & Disability Advocates.

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The addition of this data is the initial phase of a re-visioning of the Chicago Health Atlas.

“We expect to launch new, robust and vibrant Chicago Health Atlas by Spring 2017. The Chicago Health Atlas will not lose any of it’s functionality and will continue to be of value to the users who look to the Atlas for data. It will be more interactive.”- Kyla Williams, Interim Executive Director, Smart Chicago Collaborative.

The Chicago Health Atlas continues to be the place where you can go to view citywide information about health trends and take action to improve your own health with support by the Ortho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

Launch of Array of Things

This week Array of Things project launched, installing the first of its sensors in Chicago.

Here is an excerpt from the official announcement:

Array of Things is designed as a “fitness tracker” for the city, collecting new streams of data on Chicago’s environment, infrastructure, and activity. This hyper-local, open data can help researchers, city officials, and software developers study and address critical city challenges, such as preventing urban flooding, improving traffic safety and air quality, and assessing the nature and impact of climate change.

In the first phase of the project, 50 nodes will be installed in August and September on traffic light poles in The Loop, Pilsen, Logan Square, and along Lake Michigan. These nodes will contain sensors for measuring air and surface temperature, barometric pressure, light, vibration, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and ambient sound intensity. Two cameras will collect data on vehicle and foot traffic, standing water, sky color, and cloud cover.

Smart Chicago partnered with Array of Things operator, UrbanCCD, and the City of Chicago to manage a civic engagement process in June of 2016. This process included collected public feedback on draft governance and privacy policies and hosting public meetings in two of the areas of the city that would see nodes first: Pilsen & the Loop. See documentation from the public meeting in Pilsen in this blog post and see documentation from the public meeting in the Loop in this blog post. To read more about these civic engagement efforts, read Smart Chicago’s Array of Things Engagement Report.

Here is a video about Array of Things featuring Brenna Berman, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Chicago, and Charlie Catlett, the Director of UrbanCCD and lead investigator for Array of Things:

Below is a video describing the technology in the Array of Things sensors. It also touches on the engagement process and the privacy policy feedback collection.

 

 

 

 

Release of the Array of Things Civic Engagement Report

On August 15th, Array of Things released the final version of the project’s governance and privacy policies as well as responses to public feedback collected in June through the Array of Things Civic Engagement Project.  Alongside this release, Smart Chicago shared The Array of Things Civic Engagement Report.

Here is an excerpt outlining the purpose and content of the Report:

As smart cities embrace and deploy innovative technology embedded in public spaces, residents voices need to be represented. To prevent disconnect between residents and their city’s technology, broad engagement is key — not only to inform residents of innovations, but to take inventory of public concerns and questions associated with them.

The purpose of this report is to describe the civic engagement and resident feedback collection process associated with a new Internet of Things (IoT) initiative in Chicago: The Array of Things. This report outlines the methods, decisions, and philosophies that went into this effort to increase Chicagoans’ engagement and involvement with smart city technology. Since the deployment of Internet of Things is so timely for cities around the world, we’ve shared the lessons we gleaned from our work. We hope this information can be of service to similar projects in other cities.  

This civic engagement work was accomplished alongside Array of Things operator UrbanCCD as well as the City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation & Technology. Smart Chicago’s Documenters played a key role in promoting and recording public meetings. Additional partners who participated include the Chicago Public Library (CPL), The OpenGov Foundation and the Harvard Ash Center for Democratic Governance & Innovation. CPL provided welcoming community spaces to host public meetings, the OpenGov Foundation worked with us as we utilized Madison to collect resident feedback, and our graduate fellow from the Harvard Ash Center, Glynis Startz, helped execute and write about this work.

The Internet of Things and the data which will emerge from it have great potential to advance research and community priorities. Involving residents in these projects early and regularly ensures that technology is relevant, not just innovative.

Smart Chicago continues to seek new ways to engage residents with emerging urban technologies. As we do, we are committed to writing about and sharing our successes, challenges, and best practices. If you have questions about this report, please contact us.

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