City of Chicago is continue to build an outstanding technical team and there are openings ranging from senior leadership, GIS, and database administration.

Working for the city provides a number of excellent benefits, such as:

  • Make a direct impact on the 2.8 million residents and over 46 million visitors to Chicago.
  • Modernize government processes for the 21st century, which has included paperless reform, driving the use of modern tools, and
  • Understand how Chicago functions and drive changes to improve efficiency and quality of life.
  • Excellent benefits

Take a look at the openings below and apply today.

Array of Things Node

The Array of Things has reached another milestone.  This week, the final Privacy and Governance Policies were published on the project website.  The final policies, along with detailed responses to 80 comments and the engagement report, can be found at   This step in the AoT project invited the public to provide comments and ask questions about how the data collected by the sensor nodes will be protected and managed.  They were provided with several means to engage with the City, University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.  The project partners have responded to each comment and shared all of the details of the engagement process, along with lessons learned.  This information will serve as a foundation for future public engagement as the Array of Things nodes are installed across the City.

Building Violations DataLense


One of the most defining characteristics of any city is its buildings. They help define the physical character and aesthetic of any city. A USA Today reader poll put Chicago’s skyline as the second-best in the United States. Buildings go beyond the downtown and into our neighborhoods to serve a greater function to also house and shelter us. So it’s also important to make sure these buildings are safe and cared for, which is accomplished by the City of Chicago’s Department of Buildings which inspects and sometimes issues violations for buildings failing to meet a standard for quality and safety.

Several years ago, Chicago published building violations data on the data portal. Last year, the city began publishing a list of problematic landlords and a list of building code scofflaws. Today, we’ve expanded building safety data on the open data portal by releasing administrative hearings data for ordinance violations issued by the Department of Buildings on the open data portal.


"Taste of Chicago Blue Hour" by Justin Kern and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Chicago finished another phase on its commitment for paperless permits. You can now apply for business permits completely online with no need to follow-up at City Hall.

Chicago’s food inspection team uses a free, open source predictive algorithm to dispatch food inspectors. But it’s when a small start-up used the code for other governments is when it got interesting.

The city’s Chief Data Officer, Tom Schenk, spoke at Amazon Web Service’s DC Summit about OpenGrid and how it helps provide greater transparency and improves city operations.

City of Chicago is big user and producer of open source software, including for the R statistical suite. Watch one of the city’s data scientists gave a talk at the worldwide R user meeting on the city analytics projects.

Another month means another version of OpenGrid is available for the public. This month, the release includes some usability improvements and some technical API improvements. For developers, you can download OpenGrid v1.1.0 from the GitHub page.

AT&T named Chicago one of of the spotlight cities for AT&T’s smart city framework. As part of that, AT&T will be the wireless network used by the Array of Things to carry data from each sensor to the open data portal.

Image credits: “Taste of Chicago Blue Hour” by Justin Kern and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

City of Chicago’s data science team is a big fan of open source software, including the venerable R statistical programming language. Attendees of the annual UseR! (use R) conference were able to see how we used R to predict where to send food inspectors in Chicago. Take a look at Gene Leynes, a data scientist for the City of Chicago, discuss the project at a lightening talk.


Banner image credit: The Hunt by Edsel Little and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Generic 2.0 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This week, the City released the newest version of OpenGrid,  v1.1.0 with a number of enhancements that is now available in the project repository and users of

Queries with Relative Dates

Now you can search and save queries where certain dates fall within relative date ranges.  A relative date range is a period of time that is relative to the current date.  OpenGrid supports the following relative date time periods:

  • Today
  • Yesterday
  • 1 minute ago, # minutes ago
  • 1 hour ago, # hours ago
  • 1 day ago, # days ago
  • 1 week ago, # weeks ago
  • 1 month ago, # months ago
  • 1 year ago, # years ago

For example, suppose you are a foodie and want to stay up-to-date on all of the hotspots that opened within the last week. You would select the Business Licenses Dataset, and set the License_description = “Retail Food Establishments.” Then apply another filter with the Issue Date between “1 week ago” and “today.”


For those using OpenGrid with user management, users can save queries with relative date. Running those queries at a later date will use the relative date, making it more useful for those who want to re-run queries within a moving time window.

Datasets alphabetized for easier discovery

Previously all of the datasets available in OpenGrid were not alphabetized, making the finding and selection of a dataset an arduous task.  Now you can view and access all of the datasets available to you in a more organized manner.


Improved Geospatial Filtering Performance on

At times, users would notice that queries using geospatial filters would not always return all the results and may omit some data. This issue has been fixed, though, is still limited to a maximum of 1,000 results for the time being.

API support of geospatial filtering

OpenGrid’s API now supports geospatial filtering calls. Previous versions of OpenGrid would search for all data before “filtering” for specific geographies. As a result, queries were extraneous and took longer than necessary. Now, queries can be provided which will only search for data within a given geospatial parameter. displays a maximum of 1,000 research results.  Previously, when a user would try to maximize their search results for a particular area via application of a geo-spatial filter, the filtering was happening on top of the 1,000 random records that were being pulled from  Now that we’ve modified the API which uses geo-spatial filtering, we are able to support filtering on the service itself.  When a user applies a geo-spatial filter, the query will run on the defined area to find the top 1,000 results, as opposed to querying the entire database for the 1,000 results and then applying the geo-spatial filter.

Future of OpenGrid

Over the past few months, City staff has worked with Chicagoans from various neighborhoods to gather feedback on usability.  With the information we have gathered, the next phase of OpenGrid will be focused on making the data that is available in the app even more accessible and user friendly.  The City will also continue to collaborate with technologists who can help improve the platform to let residents explore open data, to help the city keep our streets safer, and to even make it useful for non-profits who may want to adopt the platform.

Interested in contributing to OpenGrid?

If you’re interested in collaborating with the city, you can take a look at the past meeting notes on the project’s Wiki. While the source code is online, the project’s documentation gives a concise overview for developers. Likewise, look at the instructions for contributors to help us run a useful, collaborative project.



Did you know Chicago’s tech department is on YouTube? Now, information about Chicago’s smart city initiatives, tutorials on the open data portal, and predictive analytics is available in a central spot.

The channel features a number of playlists which aggregates videos of the Mayor and the city’s CIO, CDO, and others discussing tech initiatives across the city. For instance, this playlist shows speeches given by the city’s Chief Information Officer:

Take a look at the other social media accounts for City of Chicago departments, such as the Mayor’s Office YouTube account and Twitter feed.

The City of Chicago’s core tech team at the Department of Innovation and Technology, Chicago Public Libraries, and the Office of the Clerk are hiring several for several positions. The focus on all of these jobs will to make an impact on the daily lives of residents and visitors to Chicago. Whether it’s on the information security team or planning team, you will be protecting or improving city services for others, which has become incredibly technology-focused as city’s are still transitioning into the 21st century. Take a look at the job listings below and help your city.

Shaq Dance

Department of Innovation and Technology

Public Libraries

Office of the City Clerk

Featured image credit: “Server Room” copyright by SparkFun Electronics (c) 2014 and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)


Buckingham Fountain | Chicago | 2016

This past June was a busy month for tech initiatives that focused on increasing collaboration with communities, civic technologists, and developers:

Chicago’s open data portal grew substantially this week after launching a pair of new data sets, including the largest data set to date, on the open data portal during Bike Week about the city’s DIVVY bike share program. Users can now see the history of DIVVY bike availability since 2013. Likewise, details of every single DIVVY bike trip since 2013 are also online. Today, the data portal has nearly 90 million rows of data

This past month, the city’s tech leaders spoke at several conferences:

Featured image “Buckingham Fountain | Chicago | 2016“, copyright Xanic Lopez, 2016 and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Six months ago, the City of Chicago launched OpenGrid, an open-source platform to view data about your city, your neighborhood, or even your block. OpenGrid evolved from the city’s internal, proprietary WindyGrid project. Today, OpenGrid now forms the bones for WindyGrid. But unlike WindyGrid, OpenGrid’s code is publicly available online and is part of Chicago’s mission to work with civic technology innovators to develop creative solutions. Since it’s initial release, Chicago has published three new releases of the platform to fix bugs and improve the platform based on feedback from developers.

During Amazon’s DC Summit, the City of Chicago announced it’ll be expanding it’s partnership with civic technologists. Starting July 8th, developers who want to work with City of Chicago can join the weekly developer calls to review recent activity and coordinate new work for the OpenGrid platform. Perhaps you want to work on a significant feature suggested in the roadmap,  fix a bugimprove usability, or simply–but importantly–write a unit test.

If you’re interested in collaborating with the city, you can take a look at the past meeting notes on the project’s Wiki. While the source code is online, the project’s documentation gives a concise overview for developers. Likewise, look at the instructions for contributors to help us run a useful, collaborative project.

Calls will be held each Friday and details will be posted on the OpenGrid wiki page ahead of the meeting.

The aim of these calls is to better-engage potential contributors or adopters of the platform. That interaction will allow better planning, roadmapping, and divvying-up tasks. Ultimately, we believe OpenGrid will be a better platform when we build with others.

We will be experimenting with this to deepen collaboration between the city and those who can benefit, contribute, or use OpenGrid. This approach draws upon the practices of Mozilla Science Lab, Apache Foundation, and other pioneers who have build and maintained significant open source projects across a community. This builds upon years of collaboration the City of Chicago has established with technologists, non-profits, universities, and companies to help Chicago become a data-driven city.

We’ll post to this blog and provide updated on OpenGrid’s wiki page on details of the call-in/webinar details.