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The Hoodies, The Suits and Chicago 2.0

By Rob Mitchum // April 4, 2013

Chicago’s open data culture is picking up steam, with millions of lines of data available through the city’s data portal and a growing community of civic-minded programmers eager to sculpt that information into useful applications. This morning, Elliott Ramos at WBEZ posted a deep profile of those efforts, detailing the collaborations forming between the software developer “hoodies” and the academic and City Hall “suits” and the creation of city data tools with fanciful code names such as Project Unicorn and Project Batman. The Urban Center for Computation and Data and the February kickoff meeting of their Urban Sciences Research Coordination Network (with a keynote address by Chicago’s Chief Data Officer Brett Goldstein) are featured heavily in both pieces.

Compared to the hack night, the SAIC event was very heavy with the suits-and-ties crowd. It served to kick-off the Urban Sciences Research Coordination Network, a group that includes the city of Chicago, the University of Chicago, the Urban Center for Computation and Data, the Computation Institute and others who seek to use Big Data to address social problems ranging from juvenile corrections to energy-use and employment.


“There are some pretty impressive sets in here,” Goldstein said referring to the data portal site. “One of the ones I’m most proud of is the crimes data set.”

The Chicago crime set Goldstein touted was the only known set of records that lists nearly every reported crime in a major U.S. city, going as far back as 2001 until present.

“So far as I know, this is unprecedented,” he said.

UPDATE: You can now listen to Goldstein and New York City’s Andrew Nicklin discussing open city data and how it can create proactive government on WBEZ’s Morning Edition today.

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