Yet in order for DoIT’s OpenGrid and UrbanCCD’s Plenario to interact, additional software—also called a service layer—was necessary. Enter the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a local civic organization that focuses on improving residents’ lives through technology.
Smart Chicago’s work focuses on three main areas for residents – increasing access to the internet, enhancing digital skills, and expanding the use of meaningful city data. For Smart Chicago Executive Director Dan O’Neil, supporting a program like OpenGrid is a natural fit.
“A collaborative union between developers, residents, and government – that’s what Smart Chicago is about, and that’s what OpenGrid is about too,” O’Neil noted at the application’s launch. “This is why we’re on it.” To build the service layer, Smart Chicago commissioned UTurn Data Solutions, a local IT consultancy focused data storage and Cloud computing projects.
Smart Chicago is also helping ensure that OpenGrid is effective in its mission to enhance transparency efforts between the city and the public. One of Smart Chicago’s marquee programs is its Civic User Testing Group, or CUTGroup. CUTGroup participants, which include residents from all corners of the city, are compensated to participate in focus groups that test civic websites and apps. The program has given developers numerous insights and has led to the improvement of many local apps, including theEveryBlock iPhone App, FoodBorne Chicago, and the Chicago Health Atlas. CUTGroup will be testing OpenGrid to help DoIT refine the tool and learn how residents can most benefit from its work.