Introducing the Chicago City Data User Group

| Adam J. Hecktman


“WHEREAS…the timely online publication of public data will empower Chicago’s residents by providing them with information necessary to participate in government in a meaningful manner, to assist in identifying possible solutions to pressing governmental problems, and to promote innovative strategies for social progress and economic growth”

This is part of the pre-amble for City of Chicago Executive Order 2012-2. That is the executive order signed into law by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2012. Thus began Chicago’s move, early for its time, to open its data to the city’s citizenry. The first wave of people to leverage the city’s open data sets has been our developer community. Civic minded developers have created many great apps, visualizations, and new data sets based on Chicago’s open data platform.

And that’s just the start. Chicago’s city data is not just for developers. Tom Schenk, Chicago’s Chief Data & Analytics Officer, told me he believes that many people, if they understood what data was out there and how to use it, could leverage that data to their advantage and the advantage of others. He’s right. End users, business users, analysts, journalists, students, community organizations, enthusiasts – we all can benefit from these valuable resources that the City of Chicago has provided.

That is why I, and co-founder Spencer Stern (Stern Consulting), have formed the Chicago City Data Users Group (CCDUG). The user group seeks to educate and inspire the usage of that data. We see the CCDUG as a way to promote civic engagement, innovation, and economic opportunity leveraging that data.

So far, we have had two meetings: one focused on the data platform itself (keynoted by Socrata’s Tyler Masterson) and a second on using every day tools like Excel against the city’s datasets (keynoted by Microsoft’s Ross Loforte). The diversity of the attendees is what made them successful. From student projects, to for-profit ventures, to community organization, the projects ran the gamut.

And that is exactly how we want it. A diverse set of users learning from a diverse set of users. You do not have to be a developer to benefit from open data. You just have to have a little background. What do you want to see? Let us know by tweeting us at @MSFTChicago.


We meet on the first Wednesday of every month.

Meetings take place at The Microsoft Technology Center Chicago
The Aon Center
200 E. Randolph
Suite 200


Future topics include:

  • What city data is out there – the data catalog in depth – Adam and Spencer
  • State and County Data – what is out there, how to reach it
  • 311 data set tear down
  • 911 data set tear down
  • Developer tools for the non-developer
  • Citizen solutions, big and small – what do they look like?


Adam J. Hecktman

You may recognize Adam. He’s a regular on TV, you can hear him on the radio, he’s penned numerous articles and is the co-founder of the Chicago City Data Users Group. But some of Adam’s most important work is done behind the scenes in his role as Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Engagement for Chicago. Tech giants, universities and government leaders turn to Adam for guidance on all matters technology, and he happily obliges, helping Chicago overcome challenges and capitalizing on new, exciting opportunities.