Year in Review: 2017 at Microsoft Chicago

| MSFT Chicago Staff

2017 was a WHIRLWIND of a year for many reasons — and we shared that whirlwind right here at Microsoft Chicago. As we navigated the depths of civic tech, leadership in technology, STEM education, and more, we spent 2017 celebrating great leadership in Chicago, Detroit, and beyond right here on the Microsoft Chicago blog.

Here’s a look at our stellar 2017:


Residential Property Analysis: Motor City Mapping
Ivoire Morrell, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

In order to change the narrative that is taking place with the residential housing market in different Detroit communities, Data Driven Detroit (D3) and LOVELAND joined forces to develop the Motor City Mapping project (MCM), conducting the largest public data collection initiative in the history of Detroit. MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell took this data to build a PowerBI presentation titled: MCM Residential Property Analysis.


Taking Library Data Off The Shelf
Civic Consulting Alliance

Since its founding in 1871, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has continually transformed itself to meet the needs of Chicagoans. In 2014, in the face of rapidly-changing norms around library usage nationwide, CPL responded by collaborating with Civic Consulting Alliance to create its strategic plan, which provided a roadmap for how CPL should grow, invest, and innovate to serve its nearly 10 million annual patrons.


A Letter to Lorena Mesa (From Lorena Mesa)
Lorena Mesa, Co-Founder & Organizer at PyLadies Chicago

This Women’s History Month, we asked local women leaders to write a letter to their teenage and college-aged selves to recall a moment in time when they felt empowered by technology. Lorena Mesa, Co-Founder & Organizer at PyLadies Chicago, stepped up to the plate, reminding us to ask the big questions and continue to be bold.



Managing Sustainability Below the Earth’s Surface
Adam Hecktman

This Earth Week, Adam Hecktman took us below the Earth’s surface into the Chicago underground to show us the city’s underground infrastructure and City Digital’s underground infrastructure mapping (UIM) platform that is designed to reduce the expensive need to restart these intrusive projects. The platform generates, organizes, visualizes, and stores 3D underground infrastructure data that can be securely shared by those who have assets underground.

Postcard from India: Do You Live Near Toxic Waste?
Shelley Stern Grach

This spring, Shelley Stern Grach took a trip to India with the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy. This article focused on Environmental Sustainability and a remarkable NGO in India, which is working hard to bring information on toxins to the public domain. Microsoft has a deep commitment to environmental sustainability, for our planet, our utilization of energy, and for our legacy. Please read about our policy and programs at


Riding Through Divvy Data
Kevin Wei, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

Since June 2013, Divvy has been Chicago’s official bike-sharing system. You can’t miss the brightly blue-colored bikes and numerous docking stations scattered across the city. With over 6,000 bikes available at 580+ stations, both residents and visitors have a fun, accessible, and efficient option for traveling around Chicago. In this blog, civic tech fellow Kevin Wei tells us how he downloaded the dataset from the open data portal and opened it with Microsoft PowerBI, an analytics tool that makes it extremely easy to manipulate, visualize, and learn from the Divvy data.


Closing the Digital Divide in Detroit’s Lower East Side
Meghan Urisko, Microsoft Chicago Civic Tech Fellow in Detroit

Have you ever struggled to use an app or a website? Who did you turn to for help — friends, family? Bring Your Own Device Technology Training (BYOD) provides this kind of help to residents of Detroit’s Lower East Side. BYOD was brought to the community by the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) and longtime community development organization, Eastside Community Network (ECN).


Stitching Data Stories: Detroit Fiber Artist Creates Piece Informed by Data
Meghan Urisko, Microsoft Chicago Civic Tech Fellow in Detroit

In this one-of-a-kind blog post, Meghan Urisko, Microsoft Chicago Civic Tech Fellow in Detroit, takes a look at the work of fiber artist Dolores Slowinski, who grew up in the 1950s on Detroit’s Westside. Most recently, Slowinski reached out to Data Driven Detroit (D3) for help with her latest piece, Detroit West Side Patterns, which explores the changing demographics and population loss of her neighborhood based on census data.


Project RELO: Reflecting on the Veteran Experience
Adam Hecktman

Last year, Adam Hecktman took part in a program that, in his words, was life-changing.  The program is Project RELO, — you can find his 2016 blog here. For Veterans Day 2017, he re-visited this project by having a conversation with Christian Anschuetz.


#CSStories: CoderSpace Transforms Chicago Youth, One Line of Code at a Time
MSFT Chicago Staff

This Computer Science Education Week, we sought out to highlight local programs that are building digital equity for Chicago’s youth. One such program, CoderSpace, offers opportunity to students in Chicago through a summer apprenticeship, Saturday sessions, and coding clubs in local high schools.

Thank you to all who helped us empower Chicago and beyond through technology in 2017. We can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us!

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