Interactive Map of Chicago Crime, Ward by Ward

As a follow up to yesterday’s post about the SimCity zoning map of Chicago, I’d like to point out that the map is a collection of interactive apps developed by Open City based largely on information from Chicago’s data portal. A couple of other apps by this project that I think are really interesting are the Crime in Chicago app, which lets you compare crime ward by ward, and breaks down the most frequent crime and even the time of day it was committed, and the How’s Business app,  which gives a snapshot view of economic indicators pulled from various sources. These are the types of innovative apps that show the powerful potential for open data.

Statistics on Crime in Chicago Wards

Chicagoans can now complete most 311 tasks by text

As covered by Government Technology, Chicago has upgraded the ChiTEXT component of its 311 system to allow citizens to complete most 311 tasks via text. Texts will prompt a series of scripted questions to better identify the problem: For a pot hole, for example, you may get asked if it’s near a curb line or looks like a sinkhole.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is that 311ers can track online their ticket’s progress as it moves through the city’s internal departments. This service is unique to Chicago, says the city’s CTO.

Best of all, use of the technology added no costs, because it was already included as a feature by Motorola, the city’s customer-service vendor. Kudos to Chicago for making strides toward more open and efficient government!

Chief Digital Officer for NYC – Roadmap to a Digital City Video

Rachel Sterne
Here is Rachel Sterne, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer, discussing a four-point plan for advancing technology in NYC. The four points—which are useful for any city government—are as follows:

  1. Access to technology, e.g., expanding the access to wireless Internet
  2. Open government, e.g., sharing more information with developers
  3. Engagement, e.g., using more social media, specifically Twitter, Youtube, and Tumblr
  4. Industry, e.g., welcoming start-ups and engaging developers
In the video, from October 2011, she shares examples of each goal.


Featured Website: OpenPlans is a nonprofit organization generating open-source software designed to use data to improve city transportation, among other things. It has received quite a bit of media attention recently, including this recent article by Arianna Huffington, spotlighting the organization’s efforts to equip NYC with a real-time-tracking system for city buses. But as the group points out on its website, it has been at this for a decade and has a bevy of initiatives and projects, all aimed at open data or transportation systems.

The diversity of projects is impressive; I’ll highlight three of many. First, the organization is a leader in developing and promoting standards for open 311 data. Second, the organization—working primarily with NYC agencies—is busy creating tools for cities, such as this Bike Share Map, that are all open-source, so they can be adopted by other cities at minimal expense. Finally, there is, a project that generates “short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play.”

It’s a great project, and I encourage you to check it out.

Great interview with Chris Vein – Video Wednesday

Check out these videos featuring Chris Vein, who promotes opening up government data to encourage private-sector innovation (including app development)—with the goal of increasing government efficiency. The second video—a lengthy interview—is quite useful. Vein recently moved from San Francisco government to being the Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish.

Videos after the jump:

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