Smart States Illinois: A Fireside Chat with Chicago CIO Brenna Berman

| Adam J. Hecktman

Adam Hecktman Brenna Berman

This week, Hardik Bhatt, Secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology for the state of Illinois hosted a convening of civic leaders and technology innovators in what was called Smart State Illinois. Hardik has said, and re-iterated in this forum, that he wants to move the state from 1974 technology to 2019 technology…in 4 short years.  And while a big focus of that transformation is internal to state operations, and its thousands of departments and agencies, it is also a transformation for the state itself: its infrastructure, its institutions, and its skills of and capabilities for citizens.

During this planning event, I had the opportunity and pleasure to interview Chicago Chief Information Officer Brenna Berman. Why interview a city CIO for a State event?  When people think of smart cities they think of…well…cities. When people think of Civic Tech, they think of it in the context of urban areas.

And it is true that Chicago has led the region in both moving forward with smart cities technology and civic tech. Which means that the City has an opportunity to leverage the experience in both in influencing a smart state. This includes how a place: urban, suburban, exurban, or rural, can solve challenges specific to their communities, with the help of both technology and Policy.

It was with this as a background that Commissioner Berman spoke with me about the city’s role in helping transform the state government, economy, and institutions.  Brenna has been at the forefront of many similar transformations at the city-level.  She led the first City of Chicago Tech Plan, oversaw the opening of massive amounts of government data, directed the City’s participation in the City Digital program at UI LABS, and launched the Open Grid Chicago citizen data platform.  And…we talked about it all.  See what this means for the state in this interview.

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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.