Monday, January 27, 2014

City of Chicago inspires my thinking around Tech

I recently attend an event hosted by LISC where Brenna Berman (CIO, City of Chicago) presented their plan to use technology to impact Chicago and it really got me thinking.

They have Five Strategies (paraphrased below from my notes):

  • Next generation Infrastructure
  • Every Community a Smart Community
  • Efficient, Effective and Open Government
  • Civic Innovation
  • Technology Sector Growth

Brenna spent a chunk of the time talking about making every community a smart community.  Smart communities is an effort already in progress with a few Chicago communities but will be rolled out to more.  The initiatives are:

  • Broadband access benchmark
  • Scale up smart communities
  • Free public WiFi
  • More low cost broadband
  • Youth tech education
  • Digital training
  • Digital excellence activities
  • Public computer access
  • Education resources

This struck a topic I love! IT Alignment. There is an understanding of the need to balance the people, process and tools in these initiatives. Making change in Chicago is an enormous task with the politics, diverse communities, unions, corruption, etc... The conversation at the event fascinated me to no end, I was surrounded by smart people with real questions, possible solutions and a desire to collaborate to have an impact.

What I really latched on to was the balance of infrastructure and policy with community needs and people. They understood the "build it and they will come" won't work. Providing infrastructure, computer labs, wifi and Broadband isn't enough, they need outreach, training and creative ways to get the tech into people's homes in ways they will actually use it.

I have just started to become aware of amazing technology innovation in Chicago through efforts of 1871 to provide space for startups, Starter League helping startups succeed, Chicago Maker lab offering 3d printing, Chicago Tech Academy build tech skills in our youth and i.c. stars focused on technology workforce development opportunities (actually I have know i.c. stars for a few years, they rock). Those are just a few, I know there are many more I am missing.

To me, much this is a great example of how to use technology directly to impact the mission. Technology can spur new opportunities, new ideas and new ways to change the world.

Read an article about the Chicago Tech plan

Or visit this set of deeper resources, including a video about the plan

Just my ramblings, sorry if this doesn't have a single point to it, just a collection of notes and thoughts I wanted to share.

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