Civic Works


The Civic Works Project (formerly known as the Civic Innovation in Chicago project) is program funded by the Knight Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust to spur support civic innovation in Chicago. The program will produce 200 content pieces, 5 apps that solve government problems, and 5 apps that solve community problems.

The project has five top-level goals:

  • Work with government entities to make more public data available
  • Create an online publication providing news and analysis on open government
  • Help government agencies to use their own data to improve public services
  • Engage non-profit organizations on efforts to find community solutions that are based on public data and data collected by their own organizations
  • Identify technology solutions benefiting government performance and community solutions that can be sustained by the private markets

Partners and Project

The project is funded by a Knight Community Information Challenge grant provided jointly by the Knight Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

Here is a list of our current projects. We’re working on a whole slew of others— stay tuned.

WBEZ Public Data Blog (Launched)

This blog is dedicated to examining and promoting civic data in Chicago, Cook County and Illinois. WBEZ is partnering with the Smart Chicago Collaborative to promote civic data. This blog will be part of that collaboration. We are also working with WBEZ on embedding civic data deeper into their operations.

Twitter Classification System (Launched)

Foodborne Chicago - Report incidents of food poisoning in Chicago
The Twitter Classification System is used in multiple applications to help government departments listen to their constituents on social media. Currently, this technology is being used to power Foodborne Chicago – a site that listens to Twitter for reports of food poisoning.

LocalData + SWOP (Launched)

LocalData is a civic startup whose mobile app allows organizers to easily record information about their neighborhood. We are providing this tool in support of the Southwest Organizing Project housing initiatives.  SWOP’s neighborhood stabilization goal is to acquire, rehabilitate and reoccupy vacant properties and develop a pool of homebuyers and highly qualified tenants within its 30 member institutions and the surrounding neighborhoods. LocalData will provide SWOP with the ability to quickly and easily gather data about abandoned and vacant buildings in their service area.

The Illinois OpenTech Challenge (Complete)

The Illinois Open Technology Challenge brought governments, developers, and communities together in a common mission to use public data to create digital tools that serve civic needs and promote economic development.

This multi-month initiative aimed to make Illinois’ open data platform, Data.Illinois.Gov, available statewide, and host government trainings, community meetings and hackathons that will bring together developers in technology with civic-minded individuals and organizations.  The winners of this challenge were announced on June 26th, 2013.

Affordable Care Act Outreach App (Complete)

LISC Chicago is working in Chicago’s neighborhoods to conduct outreach about the new healthcare exchanges and will be helping people sign up at Center for Working Family Centers around Chicago. Smart Chicago has built a texting app to remind residents about where they can go to receive help with the health care exchanges and to find more information about the Affordable Care Act.

Crime and Punishment in Chicago (Building)

Smart Chicago has partnered with FreeGeek Chicago and the Chicago Justice Project to build a website that explains the full spectrum of the criminal justice system in Chicago and the data that is available for each aspect of the system.