2017 Semifinalist
City of Chicago, IL
January 1, 2017

Smart Chicago was born in the conversations of the early to mid-2000s around closing the digital divide. The culmination of these conversations was the May 2007 report titled, "The City that NetWorks: Transforming Society and Economy Through Digital Excellence". There were eight central recommendations in this report, including that the city should recruit committed civic leaders to organize and launch the Partnership for a Digital Chicago, a new nonprofit entity, housed at The Chicago Community Trust and led by corporate, philanthropic, city, community and technology industry representatives. Its mission will be to ensure that all of Chicago achieves digital excellence and takes advantage of the social and economic opportunities that arise from universal use of digital technology. This idea — the Partnership for a Digital Chicago — became the Smart Chicago Collaborative. Smart Chicago’s first undertaking was to help distribute Chicago’s funds under the National Telecommunications & Information Association’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunity Grant Program. Since 2011, Smart Chicago has created and implemented several nationally recognized community technology programs that fill gaps in the civic technology ecosystem and disseminate the benefits of technology to middle and low income Chicagoans: the Civic User Testing Group (CUTGroup), Smart Health Centers, Youth-Led Tech, the Chicago School of Data, the Chicago Health Atlas, and Connect Chicago, to name a few. Smart Chicago has also documented and published all of its methods through blogs and books, encouraging and sometimes directly assisting other cities seeking to replicate its success.