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.

Incomplete List of Apps Using the Open311 API in Chicago

It’s been years since the City of Chicago launched their implementation of Open311, a standard for reading and writing 311 service requests. Here’s an incomplete, idiosyncratic list of apps that are currently using the City of Chicago Open311 API. If you know of one that I don’t have listed here, please let us know!

311 Super Mayor Emanuel: Fixing Chicago’s problems one 311 request at a time. Beyond the obvious fun of an 8-bit mayor that hops over a red porcupine when a service request is submitted, this is a real-time system that refreshes the page as new requests are submitted. Skyline graphic by TJ McKimmey, logo by Angel Kittiyachavalit; most other stuff by Ben Sheldon. Check out the source code on Github.

Super Mayor Emanuel

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LocalData + SWOP = Better Housing Data


Matt Hampel from LocalData and David McDowell from the Southwest Organizing Project talk about vacant building data.

Smart Chicago Collaborative is proud to announce our partnership with the Southwest Organizing Project and LocalData as part of the Civic Works Project — providing tools that empower organizations to make change in their neighborhoods.

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The Launch of Chicago Works For You

Today we’re launching a new project, Chicago Works For You, a citywide dashboard with ward-by-ward views of service delivery in Chicago.

Chicago Works For You   The citywide dashboard with ward by ward views of service delivery in Chicago on Launch Day, September 19, 2013This site is going to be a central tool for Smart Chicago as we continue our work around internet access, digital skills, and civic apps. It allows us to engage residents, government, and developers around shared data so that we can all work together to make Chicago work better for all.

We’re conducting CUTGroup tests with residents, offering training and outreach to Alderman, and maintaining a full API of the data that drives our site.

This site is a result of years of work by many. It would not be possible without the vision of the MacArthur Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust to fund the Open311 project and the determination of the City of Chicago to make that implementation the largest and most comprehensive one in the world.

Much more to come. Write me at doneil@cct.og with questions or comments.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at what this site does, taken from the About page:


The homepage is a citywide map with a daily summary of all service requests submitted, by service type and ward.

Dark lines under and up-arrows next to a request type means there were more requests of that type on that date than average. The longer the line, the higher above average. Highest above average is highlighted on the map as default.

Click any service request type to see the raw numbers and averages. The legend in the lake shows you the number ranges for each type in each ward. Click any service type to see those numbers for any day.

Go back and forth in time, it will show numbers for that service request, updating the web address so that you can share any view via Twitter, Facebook, or email.

For advanced users who like to hack URLs, you can type in any date you want, going back to January 1, 2008, the first day for which we have data from the City.


Choose any service request type from the Services menu to see weekly views of service delivery by ward.

The bars show all requests opened in each ward, displayed by the day of the week it was opened. Hover over any bar to see exact numbers of opened requests. The check mark is how many requests of that type were closed in each ward.

Click any day to see that service type on a map.

Move backward and forward in time to see the weeks go by.

Each service has details on the work it takes to close requests. Again, you can share any view and click links to view raw data or submit requests of this type.


Choose any ward to see the week in review– all open and closed requests. You can choose any request or view all of them at the same time.

The Time-to-close ranking shows the average time from open to close, per request, in context with all other wards.

The Days with the most requests is a raw count for each service type for this ward, going back to January 1, 2008.

The alderman name links to their ward website, and the Chicago start links to their contact information on the City website. See also Facebook account, Twitter stream, and legislative history (as compiled by Councilmatic) links.


See the last 500 photos submits with service requests. You can sort by service request and see raw counts. Clicking any image takes you to the detail page on the City’s Service Tracker website to see details and current status.


All of the data, maps, and charts on this site are just mute representations of a 14-type portion of the services delivered by the city for the city. We use our Tumblr blog to make observations and solicit yours.

The Launch of Open311 in Chicago

This afternoon the Mayor’s Office released two new resources for the people of Chicago:

The Smart Chicago Collaborative helped write the application for Chicago to become a Code for America city focused on complying with the Open311 standard, and we have funded this project from the start.  John Tolva, Chicago CTO and Smart Chicago Advisory Committee member, has been deeply supportive of the project and has shepherded it through to completion. Chicago Chief Data Officer and Commissioner of the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Brett Goldstein, along with Director Danielle DuMerer, has been instrumental in getting this project done, as were others at DoIT and people at Motorola Solutions and Connected Bits. Audrey Mathis, Director of 311 Services, has been great to work with as well.

None of this would be possible without Code for America, the ground-breaking organization founded and led by Jennifer Pahlka. The amount of work achieved under this grant is kind of stunning:

  • 311Labs: A space where your dreams of the possiblities of 311 data can become a reality!
  • The Daily Brief:  Explore and filter 311 service requests by neighborhood, service name, and status
  • Open311 Status: a site that shows if Open311 APIs are down or have performance issues, and provides Public APIs uptime, comprehensiveness and citizen utilization
  • Civiz: A polyglot Platform as a Service civic application
  • Civics Garden: Reflect, record—and be reminded of—your civic deeds and contributions
  • And all the normal code, design, documentation, and logo contributions you’d expect when you suddenly find yourself in front of smart Web people who can get things done

The Chicago Code for America fellows— Jesse Bounds, Angel KittiyachavalitBen Sheldon, and Rob Brackett deserve a ton of credit for drilling down into a set of tools that make sense for the particularities of Chicago while being broadly useful as reusable code for other municipalities. They moved the 311 movement forward in ways that will be felt for years to come. They are technically top-notch, excellent communicators, and real-deal project managers, all of them. They listened to our needs and were able understand the unique technology setup that lied beneath a simple desire to see the current status of a pending service request.

So get out there and track your favorite service request:

311 Service Tracker


Online system to track 311 calls
By Fran Spielman, City Hall Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2012

The technology upgrade will make the process of calling 311 to get a pothole filled, a tree trimmed or a broken streetlight replaced like using FedEx to send a package, under the plan, first disclosed by the Chicago Sun-Times last spring.

Mayor Emanuel Launches New Online “Open311” System to Improve Government Accountability and Service Delivery
 Press release from Mayor’s Office of the City of Chicago, September 20, 2012

The Open311 technology was developed through a partnership between the City’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and Code for America, and was funded in part by the Smart Chicago Collaborative.

Code for America, a non-profit loosely based on Teach for America, recruits the top talent from the technology industry to give a year of service to build innovative web applications for city governments.

Code for America selected the City of Chicago as one of only eight cities to be a part of its 2012 national fellowship program, thanks to Chicago’s demonstration of cutting-edge thinking and its willingness to invest in long-term change through the development of new web-based technology.

Mayor’s Office Video: Open 311 in Chicago

Here’s an information chart created by the Mayor’s Office:

New Open 311 Information Chart

City Reveals New And Upgraded 311 App
CBS Chicago, September 20, 2012 6:50 AM

“That’s what we’ve built – it’s called Service Tracker,” city Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said on the CBS 2 Morning News Thursday. “So whether you call in, or whether you e-mail, or use an app, you get a number just like a package, and you can track it all along the way, and you’ll get an e-mail saying it’s done.”

Chicago Launches 311 Service Tracker
WBEZ | 91.5, by Robin Amer, September 20, 2012

Chicago Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said the new service will help make city government more accountable and more transparent, something Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised upon taking office. “You need to be able to see where [a service request] is at every step along the way – not just whether it’s open or closed,” Tolva said. “Our residents and our businesses deserve to know that.”

City launches new 311 Web site, Mark Suppelsa,6:13 p.m. CDT, September 20, 2012

Chicago residents have a new way to request city services all with the click of a mouse. The city revealed its new open 311 website today which allows people to submit pictures of problems. And soon there will be an improved app.


Lastly: a =n incomplete list of news stories covering the work: