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.

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.





City of Chicago Launches OpenGrid

OpenGrid_Logo_Horizontal_3ColorToday the Smart Chicago Collaborative helped the City of Chicago launch OpenGrid— a free, browser-based, open source mapping platform displaying Chicago’s robust collection of open datasets. was launched this morning at an event at the University of Illinois Chicago Electronic Visualization Labratory. Chief Information Officer Brenna Berman, Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk, and the Smart Chicago Collaborative kicked off the official launch and demo.

OpenGrid is Public

This important work goes back to WindyGrid, the City’s internal tool displaying all past and present city data. Now, through OpenGrid, the ability to see and layer information about Chicago is in the hands of individual residents. Anyone with Internet access can see Chicago’s data come alive in relation to their homes, communities, and workplaces.

Here is the OpenGrid introductory tutorial:

OpenGrid is Open Source

The City first articulated its plans to build a public-facing WindyGrid and open up the application source code in the 18-month Tech Plan Update. The Plan stated OpenGrid would be “the first open source situational awareness system that other municipalities can use and build upon.”

Smart Chicago’s Role in OpenGrid

Through support from the MacArthur Foundation, Smart Chicago supported the OpenGrid project by creating a service layer to, a spatio-temporal open data platform. This layer serves as a data feed to OpenGrid— if the data is in, it can get into OpenGrid.

We worked with technology partner Uturn Data Solutions to create the code that drives the data. This easy-to-deploy stack can be used by any municipality or organization to display open datasets on a map. This entire project is dependent on our Amazon Web Services account, which is maintained by Uturn. We also serve many Chicago-based technologists via our Developer Resources program,

We’re proud of our continued work with the City to deliver on the Tech Plan, with local developers to encourage their role in the civic tech ecosystem, and with the University of Chicago to support the platform for data ingest.

Here’s a set of photos from launch day:, the next stage in open data

Note: this is a guest post from Jonathan Giuffrida. Jonathan has been working at 1871 in one of the seats we maintain there for innovators in civic technology. Here’s more on that program.

Jonathan Giuffrida

Jonathan Giuffrida

This summer, I’ve been using Smart Chicago’s space in 1871 to help work on a new product that is intended to change the way we use open data. was conceived as a centralized hub for open datasets from around the country. Funded by the NSF and the MacArthur Foundation, and led by a team of prominent open data scientists, researchers, and developers, it is a collaborative, open-source solution to the problems inherent to the rapid growth in government data portals.

The primary innovations of Plenario focus on making data easier for anybody to find, access, and download, regardless of its original source or format, and to do so in a free and efficient manner. The result is an enormous improvement to the ecosystem that returns us to the core promise of making the data open in the first place – that it can help improve our cities, our governments, and our lives.

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