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.

Leslie Durr Joins Smart Chicago as Project Coordinator

Leslie DurrLeslie Durr  joins the Smart Chicago Collaborative as a Project Coordinator.She will serve as the point person for projects including Chicago Health Atlas, Smart Health Centers, Foodborne, Hive Learning Networks and Youth-Led Tech. She will also be working to add several new projects to our portfolio.

Her experience includes program development and grant management in the non-profit sector, most recently with the Southland Health Care Forum as the Project Director for the State of Illinois Get Covered Campaign.

Leslie has her Master of Science in Human Service Administration from Spertus College and Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Jackson State University.

You can follow her work on Twitter.

Please join us in welcoming Leslie Durr.

Foodborne Chicago is a Top 25 Innovation in Government

Foodborne Chicago Twitter characterToday our product, Foodborne Chicago, was recognized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Here’s their writeup:

FoodBorne Chicago
City of Chicago, IL

On March 23, 2013, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the SmartChicago Collaborative launched the FoodBorne Chicago web application with the goal of improving food safety in Chicago. FoodBorne Chicago tracks tweets using a supervised machine-learning algorithm that identifies the keywords of “food poison” within the Chicago area. This tool allows residents to report a food poisoning incident through 311 after the program identifies tweets with possible cases of food poisoning. The team then tweets back a link to submit an online web form where residents can identify where they ate, the date and time they frequented the restaurant, their symptoms, and send it through Open311. The information is sent directly to the Department of Public Health and, if warranted, an inspection team visits the restaurant in question and then lets the resident know the status of the investigation via e-mail. The algorithm gets smarter at identifying related tweets as the team replies to residents that are suspected to have a potential case of food poisoning to report. If several complaints occur together, these clusters can be investigated to prevent further illnesses from developing.


And here’s a snip from a press release from Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has been recognized as a Top 25 program in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University for its FoodBorne Chicago program.

Two years ago, CDPH and the SmartChicago Collaborative launched the FoodBorne Chicago web application with the goal of improving food safety in Chicago.

“The Department of Public Health and the Department of Innovation and Technology used social media and technology to create a tool that makes food consumption in Chicago safer,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “It is innovative thinking like this that enhances and leverages available resources to make the most impact.”

California Healthcare Foundation: Preventing Foodborne Illness in Chicago

California Healthcare FoundationHere’s an interesting article covering how improvements in food safety can be traced directly to open data initiatives. Snip:

Chicago health officials and their partners are also using social media to increase the reporting of suspected food-related illnesses. For example, using the city’s FoodBorne Chicago application, health officials are mining the tweets and online reviews of consumers who mention being sickened by food establishments and contact these consumers to file a report with the CDPH. Developed in partnership with the Smart Chicago Collaborative, this program’s innovative use of social media has increased reports of food poisoning and identification of restaurants violating health codes, according to the report “Health Department Use of Social Media to Identify Foodborne Illness — Chicago, Illinois, 2013–2014,” published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Other cities, such as New York, are testing similar uses of consumer rating websites such as Yelp.


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

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.”