October 2014

Chicago City Data User Group Welcomes Bo Rodda 11/5

Chicago City Data User Group Welcomes Bo Rodda 11/5The Chicago City Data Users Group (CCDUG) is an organization responsible for meetings open to anyone in the city interested in technology. Their events are geared for end users, business users, enthusiasts, students, entrepreneurs, and more who are interested in civic engagement, innovation, and economic opportunity.

Next week, CCDUG will be hosting Bo Rodda, an artist, designer and technologist from Chicago. Bo teaches architecture and design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago alongside being a research fellow at the University of Chicago’s Urban Center for Computation and Data. On November 5, Bo is coming to Chicago’s Microsoft Technology Center to speak with CCDUG on his projects and Chicago’s future. Some of Bo’s involvement includes:

  • Lake SIM — a simulation platform on city scale to help with urban planning
  • A dynamic model of the City of Chicago
  • A cross-university program called “The Art of Data Visualization” that teaches students how to express data sets

Bo will also highlight other Chicago ventures, such as the Array of Things project, the Argonne National Laboratory, and Plenar.io.

It’s bright minds like Bo’s that encourage Chicago’s future in technology to keep thriving. With projects that promote innovation through data and technology, Chicago can continue to be the innovation hub it is. That’s why we want you to join us. Explore different ways to involve yourself in data development and help us discuss what’s next for innovation in Chicago. Help us make a difference!

RSVP for The Intersection of Art, Design, & Data with Bo Rodda now.

You can see more from Bo by following him on Twitter (@b0rodda).

Data breaches signal need to take proactive steps to tighten security

A commitment to cybersecurity is one of the key pillars defining the trustworthiness of Microsoft’s cloud platform and services. Of the major cloud service providers, Microsoft is the only one that has a dedicated Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) – a team of lawyers, investigators and data analysts who use expertise in law, cyberforensics, and data analytics to partner with public and private organizations to help protect the world from digital harm. Microsoft incorporates the cybersecurity insights and data from DCU operations into its cloud computing solutions to create a more secure digital environment for customers and the public.

In this article that appeared earlier this month in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Microsoft Assistant General Counsel Dennis Garcia addresses why organizations need to focus upon cybersecurity. He also includes some practical advice organizations and individuals can follow to enhance cybersecurity.

Data breaches signal need to take proactive steps to tighten security

Microsoft Ignite Conference Comes to Chicago

Microsoft Ignite Conference Comes to Chicago

This summer, Microsoft announced it would launch a new venture unifying the company’s top technology events — the Management Summit, the Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and TechEd conferences — as the best of what Microsoft has to offer to its business partners and customers. Last Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Howard Tullman of 1871 Chicago, Don Welsh of Choose Chicago, Jorge Ramirez of the Chicago Federation of Labor, and Microsoft’s own Julia White to announce Microsoft Ignite, a 2015 initiative bringing over 20,000 of Microsoft’s business partners to Chicago to explore innovation and technology in the business world.

Ignite, which will take place May 4 – 8 in Chicago’s McCormick Place, bringing enterprise solutions to thousands passionate about technology and furthering their skills. With keynote speaker Satya Nadella joining other tech and business leaders such as Brad Anderson, Joe Belfiore, Dave Campbell, Peggy Johnson, Chris Jones, Julie Larson Green, and Gurdeep Singh Pall, Ignite plans to do just what its name entails — set a fire on technology in Chicago and beyond.

Particularly, we are greatly appreciative of Mayor Emanuel’s nod to Microsoft’s work in STEM education in Chicago at last week’s press conference. It is our mission to promote STEM education in the Chicago area and to keep the city a thriving, innovative hub, and Mayor Emanuel’s acknowledgements showed us that we are doing just that.

“Even before this convention they’re going to host, Microsoft is a partner with Lake View High School and DePaul University,” remarked Mayor Emanuel. “It is one of the unique schools in the city of Chicago for STEM education that goes from 9th grade all the way through into college. If a young man or woman from Lake View finishes all the way through, they’re guaranteed a job interview at Microsoft starting at $50,000.”

Ventures like Microsoft Ignite keep partnerships like ours thriving and relevant. Chicago is experiencing a cultural shift that embraces technology and innovation and makes those things commonplace. That’s why Microsoft focuses on STEM and STEAM education — to promote these skills in the workplace, to create more tech-based jobs, and to find solutions to civic problems through technology. Chicago is quickly emerging as a technology hub, and focusing on developing technology leaders is one way Microsoft can ignite this change and keep the fire burning.

And we want you to join us.

Registration for Microsoft Ignite is open now. Ignite your future, learn about technology, and connect with some of the brightest minds in civic tech. See what’s next for technology — and be a part of it.

Read more about the Microsoft Ignite conference at the Official Microsoft Blog.

1871 Expansion Helps Chicago’s Future Thrive

Photo: The Bunker Incubator

Last week, Chicago’s iconic 1871 incubator held a ribbon cutting for its 25,000 square foot expansion. This growth allows 1871 to extend what it is already great at – being an incubator of incubators, and an accelerator of accelerators. It is one of the elements that make 1871, and this expansion, unique. A goal of the expansion is to nurture vertically focused incubators in the areas of food tech, education tech, financial tech, Internet of Things, and veteran tech and WiSTEM (women-owned startups). Having industry-focused incubators in place ensures a pipeline of economic activity in the spaces that will drive growth and employment for Chicago.

Then there is this second unique element to this expansion: It will provide the space for 1871 “alumni companies” to stay on within the 1871 ecosystem. Alums will be able to continue to leverage the 1871 programming as well as the space. Further, they will be situated near offices allocated to several forward-thinking venture capital companies who want to take advantage of opportunities for investment in the Chicago market. Having VCs located near the more mature companies places the right parties together at the right time.

CEO Howard Tullman and COO Tom Alexander have many plans for additional amenities, including media recording, broadcasting space, and (of course) a choice spot for their Microsoft Perceptive Pixel. With this expansion, 1871 furthers itself down the path of being more than a center for startup activity. It is becoming an epicenter for economic development in general for the City of Chicago. To quote Todd Connor (CEO of The Bunker), it makes this “an exciting time for Chicago as we define our future as a city that believes in the dreamers, the builders, the risk takers”.

How to Attract the Brightest Tech Talent? ThinkChicago.

On June 28th, Mashable released a great infographic about “How Your Company Can Attract Top Tech Talent.” In Chicago and the surrounding Midwest region, it really should be “How our City and Region Can Attract Top Tech Talent.” We have been discussing the importance of increasing STEM and STEAM skills with our youth, and focusing on how the education system, nonprofits, THRIVE Chicago, and the city wide STEM Plan can dramatically accelerate the local talent pool. Thus helping to position Chicago and the region as a global hub for innovation. But what can we do right now to attract the talent we need today? 

All over Chicago—from 1871 to Blue 1647 to Pullman and Englewood to UI Labs—there is a hive of activity, fueled by startups, young entrepreneurs, emerging industries in health and manufacturing, as well as mainstays like Boeing, Microsoft and Google. The race is on for developers, software engineers, creative types who combine art, design and marketing. The winner of the race will be determined by who can attract the talent needed to be the most innovative. Here is one great solution to attracting top tech talent…ThinkChicago! – Shelley Stern Grach

Untitled When Rahm Emanuel became Mayor of Chicago, one of his earliest initiatives was to invite students of computer science and engineering from around the Midwest to explore the city’s vibrant technology scene. He learned on the campaign trail that even though Chicago is the U.S. Heartland’s largest city, entrepreneurs starting new businesses here can have a difficult time recruiting the top talent needed to build innovative technologies that can turn their fledgling companies into major players.

Established companies from the coasts, like Microsoft, Google and LinkedIn, already recruit from top engineering schools in the Midwest like University of Illinois, University of Michigan, IIT and Purdue. But there was not much chance for those students to learn about the rich ecosystem developing in Chicago, and the opportunities available at Chicago born-and-bred companies like Motorola, Groupon, Orbitz, and GrubHub; let alone the fact that Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn all have a major presence in the city.

Enter Mayor Emanuel’s solution — ThinkChicago. In 2011 the Mayor invited some of the brightest students from universities around the Midwest to explore Chicago’s scene during Chicago Ideas Week — one of the countries largest ideas festivals. The win/win goal was not only to show the visiting students what a great place Chicago is to work and live after college, but also to directly connect innovative companies with the talent they need to take their business to the next level.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel addresses ThinkChicago at 1871

ThinkChicago continued during Chicago Ideas Week 2012, and in 2013 the Mayor announced the addition of ThinkChicago: Lollaplaooza. The organizers of the nation’s largest urban music festival suggested showcasing the rich lifestyle in addition to the rich job opportunities that Chicago offers young tech talent. Now, in 2014, both the Lollapalooza, and Chicago Ideas Week editions continue.

This year the Mayor invited 125 students to ThinkChicago: Lollapalooza. They were chosen from over 1,000 applicants based on their interest in digital technology, computer science, innovation, and/or entrepreneurship. Participating students also demonstrated a commitment to excellence as evidenced by academic honors, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and/or professional achievement. They came from schools like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Cornell, Berkeley, Carnegie-Mellon, Princeton, and London School of Economics.

It may seem like a lot to offer a relatively small group of college students, and to be sure, it’s difficult to measure the impact right away. But no matter how you slice it, the more than 500 top students who’ve come through the program to date, whether they choose to live and work in Chicago or not, will Think about Chicago in a way they may not have before.

Students tour Chicago tech companies including the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center.


Jake Trussell is a designer, media producer, and dot-connector who leads strategic initiatives across creative and technology industries at World Business Chicago — a public/private economic development organization chaired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel — where he serves as Creative Director. He tweets as @jtrus.

Aligning Business, Education and Talent at the 7th Annual Strictly Business Networking Event

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 1.01.46 PMThis month, JVS Chicago will be hosting their 7th Annual Strictly Business Networking Event. The event takes place Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 7:30am and will begin with a networking session followed by a panel discussion featuring experts in the field.

We are pleased to announce that our own Director of Civic Engagement, Shelley Stern Grach, will be on the panel alongside other business leaders in the community. Shelley’s main line of work consists of supporting economic development and growth in STEM education through programs such as Techsoup and Youthspark, which allow students to thrive in innovative education and pursue careers in the STEM field.

This year’s panel topic is Skills Gap Solutions: Aligning Business, Education and Talent — a topic that aligns with Shelley’s mission as she seeks to close the gap through STEM education and careers. Joining Shelley on JVS Chicago’s Strictly Business panel are Anne Edmunds, Regional Vice President of Manpower, Inc., who focuses on talent acquisition and employee retention for her company, and President of Harper College Dr. Kenneth Ender, who trains his students for new economy jobs and forms alliances with businesses to create jobs for students. Susie An of 91.5 WBEZ-FM will be moderating the panel discussion.

Tickets can be purchased for $75 here. We’re looking forward to you joining us!

JVS Chicago is administered through an alliance agreement by Jewish Child & Family Services, a partner in serving our community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation. For more information, visit jvschicago.org.

Civic Technology in Chicago Rests on Big Shoulders

Civic Technology in Chicago Rests on Big Shoulders

Chicago is rapidly growing into THE place for civic technology. With emerging technologies promoting citywide growth in government, education, sustainability, and economic opportunity, civic technology is becoming one of Chicago’s biggest missions.

As part of our mission, Adam Hecktman promotes outreach and collaboration between civic tech leaders in the city. This drives civic technology to become more accessible and inclusive — the driving force behind innovation. That’s why Adam teamed up with MeetAdvisor, the “Yelp for business” that seeks to help others through web series’ offering advice. Adam’s new series “Big Shoulders” highlights Chicago’s leaders, participants, and drivers of civic technology and the data space, directing news and advice to the public.

Episode One of “Big Shoulders” features Panzanzee, Chicago’s first social impact coworking space, incubator & entrepreneur community. Their mission is to grow companies that tackle the world’s toughest social challenges by providing discovery, resources, trust and traction for entrepreneurs and professionals.

And this is just the beginning. We’re looking forward to hearing from innovative leaders in Chicago and seeing how we can continue to promote civic technology in Chicago.

Watch Adam’s first episode of Big Shoulders featuring founder of Panzanzee Amanda Britt below:

The Best of Chicago at the 2014 Code for America Summit

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 2.31.05 PM

The Code for America Summit is THE annual convening for civic technology. This year’s summit (which took place in San Francisco in September) saw 800 government, tech, and civic engagement leaders from dozens of cities to talk about ways to make their cities work better.   Civic-minded technologists, designers, community organizers, and entrepreneurs heard best practices, discussed emerging ideas, and showcased the latest tools being used in this space.

Chicago was particularly well represented at the conference. From a new data hub for civic hacking, to civic organizing, to going beyond opening data, leaders from Chicago presented to accolades that many in this space are still talking about. But, if you are like me, you missed it.

Not to fear. Our civic leaders have agreed to hold a Best of Chicago at the CfA Summit session. The session will take place on October 15 at 6:00pm at the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago. To RSVP, please go to the meetup at: http://www.meetup.com/ChicagoCityData/events/210983072/.


  • Derek Eder of DataMade: Plenar.io – a new tool to search & download open data
  • Chris Whitaker of Code for America: Civic Organizing
  • Demond Drummer of Teamwork Englewood and Derek Eder: Civic Tech and the Large Lots program
  • Tom Schenk, Jr., the Chief Data Officer of the City of Chicago: What to do once you open your data

The Microsoft Technology Center Chicago:
The Aon Center
200 E. Randolph, 2nd floor
Chicago, IL 606061

We are proud of our Chicago CfA Summit speakers. Come hear them share their stories. Even if you attended, come share your highlights and reinforce the local connections made across the continent.