Today I am leaving my position as executive director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative to join Ad Hoc, a small software company that came out of the successful HealthCare.gov rescue effort. I will be joining Paul Smith, Greg Gershman, and the team they’ve built as director of business strategy & product development.

At Smart Chicago, I leave behind what is now an all-women team led by Kyla Williams, who will serve as interim executive director. Together, we’ve built a small, effective powerhouse of community technology.

I was handed a model organization— founding partners of the The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the City of Chicago, and The Chicago Community Trust. Centered in philanthropy, with the direct involvement of the municipal government, in a city with a fecund ecosystem ready to grow.

We’ve created programs that Chicago people love and that resonate across the country. Our Civic User Testing Group, which we invented out of whole cloth in 2013, has grown to more than 1,500 people. Now they’re spreading it across the country— join the CUTGroup Collective here.

We’ve built new brands like Youth-Led Tech, Connect Chicago, Smart Health Centers, Documenters, Expunge.io, Patterns, and Chicago School of Data. Created civic infrastructure like Open 311, Chicago Health Atlas, and Chicago Early Learning. Helped build new businesses, consultancies, and apps. We’ve cared about justice, and lived our principles, always. And we’ve never employed more than five full-time employees.

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There is nothing like Smart Chicago.

And now, with Ad Hoc, I am going to help veterans get benefits and help uninsured people get coverage for the first time. I get to join great people— including a longtime friend and EveryBlock colleague— doing great things for millions of Americans.

I will be taking two weeks off before starting at Ad Hoc, and I am wide-open to hearing from people wide and far, especially if you have any stories about how Smart Chicago has affected you or what kind of things you’d like to see in health / gov software. Hit me up at @danxoneil or Le Email.

Lastly, here’s a short clip of me talking at the graduation celebration of our inaugural Youth-Led Tech, conceived with and funded by Get IN Chicago. I tell them that we love them and we’re never going to let them go. And I talk about how easy it is to say things like that, and how hard it is to create systems that deliver on it.

I will not be there for Youth-Led Tech this year. But due to the foresight and planning of Get IN Chicago, and the dozens of Roseland, Austin, and North Lawndale residents Kyla at Smart Chicago has hired to run things, the program has doubled.

Systems for love beat any one person who proclaims it.

Here’s a new post I wrote for Civicist: Toward Sustainability for Local Tech Organizing. Snip:

Sustainability of civic tech organizing is basically resolved in Chicago. The question for me is whether these kinds of tech organizing groups are the model that should be supported.

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Smart Chicago’s focus is on the unmet technology organizing needs in neighborhoods all over the city.

Sustainability of civic tech organizing is basically resolved in Chicago. What remains is a city of 2.7 people million with precious few invitations to range beyond their own block, very few jobs in tech for people with low to medium digital skills, and very few ways to listen and hear the needs of the people.

That’s what we need to build.

 

 

PATF_Final_Report_Executive_Summary_4_13_16On page 112 of the report of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, “Recommendations for Reform: Restoring Trust between the Chicago Police and the Communities they Serve“, there is a section about the publication of police data that might change the way we think about “crime data” in the #opengov and #civictech movement.

In the section on Early Intervention & Personnel Concerns, the main recommendation for this area is that the Chicago Police Department embark on the “design and implementation of a mandatory EIS that centrally collects data across a broad range of data points to capture information on the totality of officer activity”. This kind of system is typically called an “Early Intervention System”, or EIS.

But later in this section is a recommendation that is near and dear to my heart (disclosure: I served on the Early Intervention & Personnel Concerns Working Group for the Task Force).

Here’s the nub:

Continue reading “A Radical Approach to Open Police Data”

The New York Times has a travel feature called 36 Hours. The schtick is that they lay out a core set of things to do in 36 hours of real time. This year the kids’ Spring Break snuck up on us and I had nothing planned. So I put together a short jaunt to Milwaukee with some (planned and unplanned) stops along the way. S-L added the meal components. Here’s our report:

Racine: Trump Rally

We had to drop off Kitteh early on Saturday morning and then got donuts at Stan’s. This still left some goodly time to get to SC Johnson by 10AM, so we decided to detour to downtown Racine and take some pics at around 9AM. We saw a bunch of cops and people standing in line, then some Trump-oriented vehicles. We quickly realized we stumbled on a Trump rally. Fuck that guy. So we got out to take some pics.

Trump Rally Racine

Continue reading “Spring Break 2016: 36 Hours in Milwaukee”