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.

About the Department

The Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) was introduced in 2008 to add innovation to the charter of the former Department of Business and Information Services.

As the central information technology organization for the City, DoIT provides a number of technology and telecommunications services to departments, the Mayor, Aldermen, other city agencies, residents, businesses and tourists.

DoIT manages all city data including the data portal. They’ve also been hard at work helping to build a predictive analytics system to help the city do things more effectively and efficiently. The first step was the Chicago Data Dictionary which houses all the metadata for data in the City – including those not on the data portal. The next step was taking these data sources and plugging them into the data portal. The department has open sourced the tools they use to do this as part of the OpenETL toolkit. (Which means that any city that’s committed to open data can now get there easier.)

DoIT’s predictive analytics platform is already being used to predict where rats are going to be a problem. They are expanding the platform to be able to predict all kinds of things that will help the city run more effectively. For example, which restaurants should the city inspect first? Where should the city pre-position equipment during an incoming snowstorm?

Before they can start using the platform, they’ll need to run experiments to make sure that the platform is working. That’s where this position comes in:

About the new role

The new hire will work with the advanced analytics team to find research methods that also help city departments make better decisions.  They’ll be monitoring the implementation of research experiments within city departments to ensure it complies with the research protocol. The new hire will also communicate progress to the advanced analytics team and stakeholders.
This position will also require a lot of documentation.Remember, this is going to get open sourced and so everything is going to have to be repeatable.  The new hire will need to document the required data sources and data systems used by city departments for operational purposes. They’ll also be documenting techniques, procedures, and protocol of a department’s daily operations to conduct city services to serve as a reference for the Department of Innovation and Technology. 
The new hire will need to be comfortable bouncing around the bureaucracy of city hall. They’ll maintain long-term relationships with departments to monitor the on-going integration of advanced analytics in the decision-making process.

About the payoff

It is difficult to overstate how much of an impact the predictive analytics platform will have in not only the way that the City of Chicago does business, but cities across the country. The city has made a big investment in harnessing their data. The Bloomberg Foundation took notice, awarding the city one million dollars to help fund the analytics platform.
The predictive analytics platform will allow Chicago to become a “smart city” by accurately anticipating the needs of residents and being able to deliver services much more efficiently – something that will be crucial as governments continue to tighten budgets.
The platform is already being widely anticipated not only because of it’s promise of delivering smarter government, but because it will be opened sourced. Cities that have done the work of harnessing their data won’t have to spend the time, money, and resources building their own analytics. Chicago will have given them a head start.
This is an incredible opportunity for people wanting to use their data skills to help cities.
If you’d like to apply, click on the link here. The posting closes on November 16th, so get your application in now!