On Friday, TechWeek began as Chicago Chief Technology Officer John Tolva opened the event, held for the first time in Chicago. Tolva gave an address on the “State of Chicago’s Technology and Innovation,” and welcomed Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States.
TechWeek consists of four days of conference sessions with more than 150 international speakers, four days of an exposition hall with over 100 exhibitors, 35 tech start-ups, and more than 30 independent, off-site events. It will run through Friday, July 29 at Merchandise Mart and other venues throughout the city.
“Chicago has always been an innovation leader in the world; today, technology is the key driver of this innovation,” Tolva said. “Chicago is using technological advances to provide essential services and information to residents for a lower cost, solicit public feedback on key projects, grow and expand the city’s workforce, and advance Chicago as a leader in the world economy.”
While taking place in Chicago, TechWeek highlights Chicago’s own technological prowess, such as the 2750,000 high-tech jobs spread among 24,000 employers and the more than 50 publicly traded high-tech companies all centered in the Chicago area.
Chicago’s city government has also worked on developing its high-tech cred by initiatives such as publishing new city data sets online weekly and refreshing those sets nightly in order to increase the city’s transparency. In addition, the City is crowd-sourcing ideas to increase efficiency, and generating opportunities for Chicagoans to use this data to create applications and websites.
Other examples of Chicago as technological hub include the City’s Apps for Metro Chicago Illinois competition. The competition was launched in June, and aims to encourage developers to create applications useful for Chicagoans and visitors alike.
On July 16, Google Chicago hosted a Chicago Open Data Hack Day. The event gathered 60 engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs to share ideas about using the City’s open data to create new products and services.
The City of Chicago’s technology office has also launched performance dashboards to help make the City more accountable to the public. The dashboards feature 21 datasets on city services, including pothole repair, licensing and permitting, and 311 calls.
The City of Chicago’s open Data Portal has had more than 270,000 views and added new data set visualizations since May 16, 2011. The City is also using social media to interact with Chicago residents.
On June 30, Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a Facebook Town Hall, in which he answered questions submitted and ranked by the public via Facebook and Twitter.
Tolva hopes the City will continue to use open data, information and technology together to generate technological advancement.
“Technology allows us to communicate with everyone and to hear ideas from all corners of the city,” he said. “We will use this information and these ideas to help drive the city forward.”