Currently browsing: Civic Tech

New Datasets for Chicago


The City of Chicago has two new datasets on its open data portal: problem landlords and building code scofflaws. The Problem Landlords List identifies residential building owners repeatedly cited for failing to provide tenants with basic services and protections, such as adequate heat, hot water, and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Those on the list have been found liable in two or more Administrative Hearing cases within a 24-month period and have three or more serious building code violations. The Building Code Scofflaw list identifies residential building owners with three or more properties that are the subject of active Circuit Court cases where the violations remain uncorrected after the second court hearing.

Check out the new datasets here:

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Civic Tech for Smarter Parks


Next City published an article about how the city of Philadelphia is using GIS (geographic information system) software to help park workers track and check on sick trees. It’s worth a read.

In a time when parks officials are working to conserve more public land and pushing policymakers to secure conservation funds, there are still trees that need to be tended, nurseries fostered and plots mowed. Through ArcGIS technology, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has made those tasks — the bread and butter of parks maintenance — easier.

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Chicago tech just had its best year ever


Built In Chicago released an article on Chicago’s tech year-in-review:

Chicago tech startup investment and exits surged in 2014 to what appears to be the city’s highest totals ever. In total, 155 digital tech companies raised $1.6 billion in capital, and 34 companies exited for more than $7 billion. A swell of Chicago tech investment and acquisitions come as the city is increasingly seen as one of America’s major technology hubs, and as digital technology companies are increasingly at the center of Chicago’s economic growth.

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The Changing Face of Houston a Civic Engagement Series


The Houston Public Library presents The Changing Face of Houston a Civic Engagement Series presentation beginning Monday, January 26, 2015 through Tuesday, September 22, 2015. This series presentation is about getting Houstonians to become involved in listening, learning and engaging in their communities. The discussions will involve deliberate, consistent and purposeful outreach to create an environment in which people from all backgrounds have a voice in the decisions and actions that affect their lives and neighborhoods. The first Civic Engagement Series will be held on Monday, January 26, 2015 from 6 PM – 8 PM at the Julia Ideson Building, 550 McKinney, 77002. The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information on library locations and times for future presentations visit or call 832-393-1319.

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Making open data integral to Philadelphia


Technically Philly has a new article out featuring Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer, Tim Wisniewski, talking about plans to develop and integrate more open data into the city’s long term plans.

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On a related note, EveryBlock Philly currently features two datasets – crime reports and 311 service requests. We look forward to seeing where the city takes its vision for open data.

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How Boston is using technology to make the permit process easier


GovTech has a great article on how the newest EveryBlock city, Boston, is using technology to make its permitting process simpler and easier – including using an online tracking tool developed from the city’s hackathon last year.

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Good resource(s) for getting involved in your neighborhood


If you’re looking to get more involved in your community, either through engagement, outreach, event planning, or simply connecting better with your neighbors, Open Plans has a great list (via Community Matters) on many different resources to help you do so. Check it out! Topics include sharing neighborhood knowledge, reporting potholes and other municipal problems, responding to surveys and giving input in other ways, and brainstorming ideas and reaching decisions.

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CHIdeas – the City of Chicago’s new online community forum


The city of Chicago has released a new tool, CHIdeas, to help generate new ideas to help improve the city. Currently, the city is looking for feedback on four ideas: supporting small businesses, emergency preparedness, reading, and a City Hall photo collage.

This site is an online platform to provide opportunities for government and citizens to work together by connecting civic challenges to community problem-solvers. We believe the best way to tackle challenges that affect the community is with the community. By using a platform that allows members of the community to contribute from their own homes and on their own schedules, we believe that we will be able to engage a broader audience. And with this broader audience comes a broader range of ideas, solutions and participation. So, who should participate on this site? You! We want your ideas, your feedback, your comments and your point of view. Together, we can build a better community!

Learn more at:

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More Chicago Open Data


There’s a new dataset on Chicago’s open data portal – roadway construction moratoriums – streets that CANNOT have any construction on them. From the city:

Moratoriums are established by the Department of Transportation as a method of protecting reconstructed or repaved roadways within the boundaries of the city. By having access to this Moratorium list in advance, contractors or utilities with projects that require excavation of roadways can more effectively plan and review conflicts that will be encountered.

Check out the dataset here:

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Lessons from Philadelphia’s open data progress


Sunlight Foundation has a piece on lessons learned from Philadelphia’s open data policy, including the demand vs. cost of public data sets. It’s worth a read –

As open data efforts mature around the country, more places with open data policies are taking the time to reflect on their progress and plan for the future.

Philadelphia, one of the first dozen cities in the country to have an open data policy, is providing an example of what this reflection and planning can look like. The city’s Open Data Team recently released a Strategic Plan and Open Data Census, highlighting lessons from the first two years of its open data program and looking at how to make improvements going forward. Philadelphia’s efforts can help provide lessons to other places looking for ways to be more transparent about the process of opening up data.

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