Civic Tech in Chicago — February 2018’s Top Events

 |   MSFT Chicago Staff

February is all about love — and we want to spread the love to you. While we run around the city bringing technology solutions to you, we want you to join us at these top events happening in Chicago this month:


February 1, 8, 15, 22 — Chicago Women Developers Hack Night
1871 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor, Chicago

This weekly event gives ladies a space to code together. Whether you’re just getting started, or are a veteran in the tech world, there’s a seat for you at the table. BYOL: Bring your own laptop!

February 6, 13, 20, 27 — Chi Hack Night
Braintree 222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 8th Floor, Chicago

Join us every Tuesday from 6-10pm on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart to hear from amazing speakerslearn from each other and work on civic projectsEveryone is welcome!

We are a group of thousands of designers, academic researchers, data journalists, activists, policy wonks, web developers and curious citizens who want to make our city more just, equitable, transparent and delightful to live in through data, design and technology.

February 5

Blockchain for Social Good: Connecting Asylum Seekers with Humanitarian Resources
Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center Chicago Aon Center – 200 East Randolph Street, Suite 200

At this meeting of BSGC, we will discuss a recently-launched humanitarian project that combines emerging technologies to aid some of the world’s most vulnerable populations and the organizations that serve them.

Project Safe Harbor is an open source platform that leverages blockchain and artificial intelligence in the hopes of enabling societies to provide basic resources, safety, and security to the more than 65 million asylum seekers around the world. The platform tackles the challenges refugees experience after being forcibly displaced, as well as the problems of government agencies and nonprofits who are trying to offer them medical, educational, and job opportunities.

At BSGC, Project Safe Harbor will present the details and philosophy behind their project. From there, we will have an open conversation about the project’s structure and its potential for impact in humanitarian work.

February 7

Entrepreneurship Internship Program (EIP) Information Session
Booth School of Business 5807 S. Woodlawn Ave. (Room C-08), Chicago

The Entrepreneurial Internship Program (EIP) gives all first-year full-time MBA students at Chicago Booth the opportunity to intern with a small, entrepreneurial company for 10 weeks. Hosted by the Polsky Center and Career Services, the program allows students more financial flexibility to pursue internships at early-stage companies — like SpotHero and Tovala. In return, these companies are able to enhance their firms with the assistance of top-notch MBA students.

Chicago City Data Users Group
Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center Chicago Aon Center – 200 East Randolph Street, Suite 200

Join Cook County’s Information Technology Communications Manager Kathy Lynch, the County GIS Team, and Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar for a look at the data and maps Cook County makes available to the public on Wednesday, February 7th. Cook County has hundreds of maps and datasets that anyone can use for research or building their own applications. Kathy Lynch will provide an overview of the County Open Data Portal and talk about the different types of data available plus what’s new or coming soon. The GIS Team will also intro the new “Cook Central” maps and geospatial data hub put together by the County’s Geographic Information Systems Department, as a new part of our open data environment. Dr. Arunkumar and the GIS team will demo a new map and dataset displaying all the deaths handled by her office going back to 2014 and updated several nights per week. You can see cause and manner of death, incident location and demographic information about the decedents – with all data behind it available in both the mapping and data environments.

Accessibility, Research & Therapy in Virtual and Augmented Reality
Eight Bit Studios, LLC 350 West Erie Street, Chicago

This month’s meetup will take place at Eight Bit Studios, who will also be providing food and beverage. The topic is Accessibility, Research & Therapy. We’ll be talking about use cases, design considerations and user interaction that take into account accessibility factors, research focused on the design and development of hardware and applications to account for accessibility factors, and therapy that uses VR and AR.

February 8

Switched On: Student Innovations in Cleantech
mHUB 965 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago

Switched On: Student Innovations in Cleantech will showcase 8 of the most innovative cleantech business ideas being worked on by university students throughout the Midwest. After coaching and mentorship from Clean Energy Trust staff and external subject matter experts, these 8 finalist teams will pitch at the final event to determine the winner of the $50,000 Cleantech University Prize sponsored by the Department of Energy.

February 13

Women Influence Chicago Series: Negotiating your Equity Package
TechNexus 20 N Wacker Dr., 12th Floor, Chicago

Equity can be one of the biggest risks and potentially the biggest reward of working at a startup or growth stage tech firm. It is an often opaque and confusing topic, especially for women. We don’t tend to talk about money, some of us fear negotiating, and there are few female role models who have successfully negotiated and capitalized on equity packages.

Join us for a learning session about the basics of equity and a panel discussion on understanding when you should and shouldn’t take advantage of an equity opportunity.

February 22

Sinai Forum: Lunch Series featuring Sinai’s own Shelley Stern Grach
Chicago Sinai Congregation 15 W. Delaware Place, Chicago

Join us for this monthly lunch series. The cost is $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. RSVP to