Big Shoulders: Katie Olson, Director of Program and Design at City Digital

| Adam J. Hecktman

Katie Olson has one of my favorite minds in Chicago’s vast city ecosystem. She brings together the pragmatic with the civic with the systemic, all the while leveraging her background in city planning and economic development. The programs that she works on at City Digital, and the smart city space in general, are better for her empathetic approach. She is clearly in the right role, as Director of Program and Design at City Digital.

It has been a while since we visited the work going on at City Digital. As a refresher, City Digital is a consortium in the UILABS family of consortia. It is a collaborative partnership among leading corporations, research institutions, and the public sector. It’s an unusual setup, in that it has the ability to use the city itself as a platform for testing smart city solutions. Not just city workers — the physical city itself. It focuses on exploring critical areas of need in urban environments including water, transportation, energy, and physical infrastructure.  

With two years and a few projects under their belts, City Digital has both some great stories of the unseen in our city, as well as vision for where they can take this model. In this segment, you will hear about the new partners, the new types of projects, and the lessons learned on how to scale the results.  Join me in hearing from UILABS’ Katie Olson on Big Shoulders.

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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.