February 3, 2012

Code for America Innovation Team Arrives in Chicago to Develop New Open 311 System

Team Will Deliver New Open311 Software to Improve the City’s Service Request System

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO - Mayor Rahm Emanuel today welcomed to Chicago a team of innovators from Code for America, which selected Chicago as one of only eight cities to be a part of its 2012 national fellowship program. The team of four fellows will live in Chicago for the next five weeks to develop the program plan to create and implement an Open311 system, which will modernize and improve efficiencies to the City’s current service request system, 311. Code for America cited Chicago’s demonstration of cutting-edge thinking and its willingness to invest in long-term change through the development of new web-based technology as a key factor in awarding the nine-month fellowship.  

“We welcome the Code for America team to Chicago and look forward to their end product, an Open311 system that is long overdue and will help increase efficiency in our service delivery system,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Organizations like ‘Code for America’ must be commended for their commitment to helping cities and towns across the country improve the way they function and provide services to their residents in a 21st Century world.”

Across the country, governments have been adopting a common standard for 311 reporting known as “Open311,” which means that applications built on 311 data anywhere can be used everywhere. The City of Chicago has requested that the Code for America fellows deploy this “Open311” standard in Chicago, which would open up access to dozens of web and mobile applications that will revolutionize the way Chicagoans make service requests to the City. Through “Open311,” Chicagoans will be able to easily track the status of their requests, and city officials will be allowed to monitor these requests more efficiently and respond more quickly.

Last year, the City Council approved $300,000 in grant funding from the non-profit Chicago Community Trust’s “Smart Chicago Trust Fund” to pay for the program fees and costs associated with the Code for America fellowship program.  Since taking office in May 2011, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made significant reforms and investments in information technology and data transparency. Emanuel’s Chief Technology Officer John Tolva and his team have been tasked with leveraging technology to ensure that the City delivers better services at a lower cost to taxpayers. "I am thrilled to be residing in the City of Chicago. Throughout the month, our team will begin building partnerships with the people and the community of Chicago -- that are crucial to the work we will do this year," said Code for America Fellow Jesse Bounds, a software engineer. Code for America, a non-profit loosely based on Teach for America, recruits the top talent from the technology industry to give a year of service to build innovative web applications for city governments. Through a competitive process, Code for America chooses cities whose proposals reflected a deep understanding of the power that technology can bring to cities. The 2012 Fellows will build on the success of Code for America’s inaugural projects in Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle. For the 2012 program, over 20 governments applied, and eight finalists were selected. Information on the Code for America Chicago fellows is provided below. Additional information about the Chicago project and Code for America can be found at http://codeforamerica.org/2012-partners/chicago/.

Angel Kittiyachavalit is a visual and user experience designer. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she worked for ReadyMade magazine.Most recently, she was a user experience designer at a startup, where she launched their user testing program and was in charge of designing everything from web to print. She also loves learning different languages and speaks English, Thai, Spanish and some Mandarin.

Ben Sheldon is a web developer and community organizer. Ben directed the Digital Arts Service Corps, a national AmeriCorps*VISTA program, improving the capacity of community organizations to employ media arts and technology. A longtime resident of Boston, he developed online tools to facilitate education, economic development, and bicycle safety. Ben is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Boston University.

Jesse Bounds is a software engineer who has most recently lived in Cambridge, Mass. Jesse is fascinated by the challenges and opportunities that cities present to society. After receiving his MS in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Colorado, he worked on building scalable systems in the financial and mobile industries. He is also a web developer working for several nonprofit organizations around the world. Most recently, he was the lead developer on Fluent, the first highly optimized news aggregator and reader for the iPhone.
Rob Brackett is a user interface designer and frontend developer with an expertise in javascript. He has worked on Desktop, web, and iOS software design at Apple, helped design developer sites, tools, APIs for Appcelerator, and worked with various design firms to prototype new software ideas.