With the opening of swimming season, the Chicago Park District water sensors at Lake Michigan beaches are live again and streaming to the data portal hourly.

That dataset has a partner dataset, beginning this year, Beach Weather Stations. The Park District places land-based sensors at some beaches to measure air temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind, barometric pressure, and sunlight. The data collected are also streamed to the data portal hourly.

Finally, in order to facilitate geographic analysis of the water and weather data, we have published the locations of the beaches where the sensors are in operation.  Note that not all sensors are active at all times so locations sometimes will be listed that are not currently providing data.

Image by Basheer Tome.

Our Open Data Portal now includes a new view type − Data Lens. These views do not present any new data. Rather, much like charts, they offer a way to summarize and explore existing datasets.

Data Lens pages are built around the concept of cards, with each card on the page showing a different way of summarizing the data in bar chart or map format or of filtering by a particular column. The real power of a Data Lens page is that the cards are linked so that filtering in one card filters all the others. For example, consider Food Inspections:

Food Inspections Data Lens

The cards above give a quick summary of food inspections, as a whole, but suppose one is most interested in inspections of Risk 1 establishments. Simply click that bar on the Risk card and all other cards update correspondingly.

Food Inspections Data Lens Limited to Risk 1 Establishments

But how about just the Risk 1 inspections with a Result of Pass? Click the Pass bar, as well.

Food Inspections Data Lens Limited to Risk 1 Establishments with a Result of Pass

So, how are those inspections distributed across Community Areas? One can sort of see but that card is pretty small. Click the double arrow in the corner of the Community Areas card …

Click the Double-Headed Arrow to Expand a Card

… and it expands to larger size.

Community Area Card Expanded to Larger Size

The best way to learn about Data Lens pages is to experiment with them, yourself. We have published some initial pages, including Crimes, Business Licenses, and Red Light Camera / Speed Camera Violations, and will continue to add more. As with other view types, Data Lens pages appear as a searchable category in the left pane of the Data Portal home page.

View Types Highlighting Data Lens

For up-to-date information on Data Lens pages, in general, please see Socrata’s Data Lens Support page. Socrata will add new features over time and we will implement those that seem useful for City of Chicago data. Both Socrata and the City of Chicago welcome feedback and suggestions. Each Data Lens page will have a feedback button in the lower right that sends comments to Socrata. As always, the best ways to reach us are @ChicagoCDO and dataportal@cityofchicago.org.

The Mayor has recently launched an online community forum called CHIdeas to engage Chicago’s residents and businesses in a discussion on how to improve services at City Hall, create programs and initiatives in our neighborhoods, and enhance quality of life across the city. CHIdeas provides a structured platform to seek ideas from the public and promote community dialogue around key issues such as raising the minimum wage, early learning programs, library services, and public art installations.


CHIdeas Logo


Visit www.chideas.org to add your voice to the conversation

Online urban city guide Yelp has helped millions find and review businesses in their area, from discovering a local deli to cure a lunch break rut to trying out a new hair dresser with fingers crossed and eyes closed. And soon, Yelp will not only be in our back pockets, but in our backyard as well. Yelp Co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have recently announced the expansion of Yelp to the Merchandise Mart, where it’s slated to open shop January 2015.

In addition to providing ratings and reviews, Yelp lets patrons “check-in” on the mobile app to their frequented restaurants to earn titles of Regular and Duke, even Baron of the Neighborhood – a lesser-known Yelp marketing technique. But beyond virtual royalty, Yelp is now offering Chicagoans something a little more substantial – jobs. They plan to hire 300 employees in the next 12 to 18 months in Chicago.

With offices in San Francisco, Scottsdale, New York, London, Hamburg, and Dublin, Yelp chose Chicago due to its pipeline of talented personnel from universities across the Midwest, along with its dedication to local business and a nationally-recognized technology community. The office in the Merchandise Mart attracted Yelp, as it sought a commuter-friendly location situated near Chicago’s thriving business district. Yelp is excited to play a part in Chicago’s rich history of innovation, which includes the Ferris Wheel, the skyscraper and brownies, to name a few.

“This vibrant metropolis is an ideal location to source talented new employees and connect with even more great local businesses. Chicago’s history as a leader in innovation and support of small business and tech industry growth fits seamlessly with Yelp’s initiatives, and we are excited to build a home here with Yelp’s seventh office,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-founder and CEO of Yelp.

Since its 2004 launch in San Francisco, Yelp has connected millions of users to local businesses in 27 countries worldwide: US, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Singapore, Poland, Turkey, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, Japan and Argentina. And like that guy who always knows the newest, trendiest place in town, Yelp is popular. It boasted a monthly average of 68 million unique hits on mobile devices in the second quarter of 2014.

Yelp will be joining an already thriving tech community in the Merchandise Mart: technology hub 1871, Razorfish and MATTER, a start-up for next-generation health IT, medical device and biopharma companies. The City looks forward to welcoming Yelp to its skyline, in what is hoped to be a fruitful – and tasty – relationship.

From smart phones to digital cameras, from Facebook to Google, technology is a central part of our kids’ lives today. We’re happy to announce that Best Buy is now sponsoring Chicago City of Learning programs designed to build our students’ technology skills through fun, interactive workshops and activities.

“The Chicago City of Learning program continues to engage our kids, opening the doors to a variety of learning opportunities across the city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The additional resources provided by Best Buy’s Geek Squad Academy will allow Chicago’s youth to explore a future in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. This will help prepare our children with the skills and education they need for college and a successful career.”

anyone-can-code[1]The CCOL initiative offers thousands of after-school and summer programs, through partner organizations citywide, designed to challenge youth to engage in new ways of learning. Hands-on projects afford children and teens to work with everything from traditional craft materials to state-of-the-art technology. Through the sponsorship, participating CCOL outlets will afford Best Buy Geek Squad Academy to teach Chicago’s youth about the latest technology that will set them up for future career and college success. Geek Squad Academy will provide tech experts to engage kids with activities such as robotics, 3D printing and audio and video production.

More information on the Chicago City of Learning can be found at www.ChicagoCityOfLearning.org.

The City of Chicago has released a handful of new datasets which pertain to several parts of daily life in Chicago. The public will be able to explore the water quality at Chicago beaches, find who and which vehicles are licensed to carry passengers, activities for Chicago’s Micro-Market Recovery Program, and the geographic areas targeted by the City’s Broadband Innovation Challenge.

Sensors at Chicago’s Beaches

Chicago Parks District maintains automated sensors that report water data at the city’s beaches, including water temperature, water clarity (turbidity), and wave height–the same information 
The new dataset provides current and historical information from sensors starting during the 2014 swimming season. The graph below the break shows water temperatures every hour for each Chicago beach from Memory Day 2014 until present.


So, you’ve come to rely on the open data portal to power a website, a research project, or simply browse. First, thank you! We do want to make the open data portal an effective platform for everyone.  In the inaugural open data report, the city laid out a commitment to release a status blog to keep users in the loop about changes to the portal.

Today we’re happy to launch the Chicago Data Portal Status blog to keep you in the loop about changes and issues with the data portal.  The portal contains nearly 600 datasets and is over 3 years old. The platform is improved and we will be cleaning-up and continuously optimizing the portal for better performance and consistency. We will be keeping you informed of those changes so you can understand when and why changes were made.

A large portion of the portal is a sophisticated setup of automated scripts that refresh data on a daily, weekly, or monthly process. But, sometimes things go wrong. If something does malfunction, it’s important that we provide a basic service of keeping our users up-to-date on the resolution.

What kind of things will we write about at the status blog?

  • Work on migrating geographic datasets from attachments to browse-able maps
  • Change the API call name to correct a spelling error or improve consistency.
  • Provide an update if we have a technical issue or out-of-date dataset.

The blog will be updated if we notice an issue or if one is brought to our attention. Feel free to reach out to us via Twitter or email.

Chicago Public Library and Google Chicago are partnering to bring the latest innovation in STEM education to Chicago: Finch Robots! Thanks to Google’s donation of 500 Finch Robots, anyone with a library card can check out one of the fun, hands-on robots to learn the basics of computer coding.


The easy-to-use Finch Robots are programmable devices that can move, make noises, light up, and even draw, allowing students to bring computer coding to life. Using the Finch, students as young as eight years old can learn the basics of coding in over a dozen programming languages and environments in a fun, interactive way.

Offering Finch Robots at Chicago Public Library is another step towards Mayor Emanuel’s goal of providing STEM education for Chicagoans of all ages and making 21st century job skills like computer programming accessible across the city. The robots can be checked out individually or in packs of five, making it easy for teachers or community organizations working with larger groups to take advantage of the state-of-the-art technology.

Any adult patron of the Library can check out a robot, either at one of the six CPL locations where the robots are housed, or through the Library’s holds system using chipublib.org.

Lesson plans and tutorials for the Finch can be found on the finchrobot.com website. For more information, check out this video to see the Finch in action!


Today the City of Chicago announced the winners of the Chicago CleanWeb Challenge. This year-long hackathon challenged developers to use city data and create technological solutions for environmental issues. There are four incredible winners of the CleanWeb Challenge. Check them out below!


First place winner Planet Lab created an entirely new platform for STEM learning that can be used by students across the city. They’re connecting kids with top researchers and scientific organizations and providing classrooms with the best hands-on science education materials out there. It’s an amazing new way for students to learn and save the planet – all while having a great time.


Love playing FarmVille? You’re going to love Build It! Bronzeville, the second place winner of the CleanWeb Challenge.  The Build It! project connects neighborhood development to a fun online game that helps communities decide what resources they’re going to need. The more you play, the more you learn about the community!


Save money on your household utility bills with BetterNRG. This team won third place for coming up with their app that can analyze your energy usage and find easy ways to save you money. BetterNRG even gives you a Nest Smart Thermostat to monitor energy usage


Honorable mention goes to LINK Up Illinois, a new platform that makes farm-fresh food affordable to people in Illinois who use LINK cards. LINK Up Illinois is using technology to help people across the state get the tastiest, freshest food grown right here in Illinois.

 Congratulations to all the winners! Learn more about the CleanWeb Challenge here.