June 23, 2022

Mayor Lightfoot Announces a New, Coordinated Approach to Technology

City launches IT modernization initiative and leadership changes

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO — Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Assets, Information, and Services (AIS) announced several measures to modernize the City’s information technology to deliver more accessible city services for residents, businesses, and other constituents. These efforts will provide more efficient IT systems, enable transparency through broader access to data, and maintain protections for residents’ privacy and security.

"As we saw with initiatives like Chicago Connected, technology when properly wielded, has the tremendous power to uplift residents in all of our communities," said Mayor Lightfoot. "By providing equitable access to better technological resources, we can empower our residents — giving them the tools they need to access opportunities, resources, and so much more. This new technology approach will help ensure that moving forward, City government uses technological resources in a way that benefits all and not just some."

Chicago’s new approach to technology will guide enhancements to city services, increase transparency, and ensure equity and accessibility by:

  • Lowering the cost and burden of receiving city services and benefits.
  • Reengineering outdated business processes and adopting new technologies for our future to ensure collaboration and leverage across City Government.
  • Making public services accessible digitally and easier to use by Chicagoans.
  • Improving data integrity to enable more robust, transparent, and accessible use of data.
  • Reducing the IT burden on City departments, allowing them to spend more of their resources delivering services to residents instead of maintaining outdated systems.

“I have seen firsthand how residents will be helped by these new technology initiatives,” said 40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez. “As my office continues to collaborate with city agencies to build more transparency and a better customer experience into city service delivery, today’s announcement sends a strong signal that Chicago recognizes the power of technology to deliver better services.”

Today’s announcement is a small part of Mayor Lightfoot’s broader strategy to close Chicago’s digital divide. In addition to enhancing city services, the new approach will contribute to a more equitable Chicago and build on the Mayor’s launch of Chicago Connected, a groundbreaking initiative that provides free high-speed internet access to 100,000 Chicago students and their households for four years.

The City’s new technology strategy also complements the Chicago Digital Equity Council, a cross-sector, community-driven effort to understand and tackle the nuanced barriers to digital equity. As the City investigates these barriers and dismantles them, government benefits, and services must keep pace with demand and be easily accessed online.

Leadership Changes

At the heart of Chicago’s technology transformation are two city officials responsible for executing these goals. Nick Lucius will step into the newly created role of Chief Technology Officer in the Office of the Mayor. In this role, Lucius will be responsible for developing policy and ensuring the City’s technology strategy implements Mayor Lightfoot’s goals of equity and better service delivery.

For the past two years, Lucius has served as the City’s Chief Data Officer, overseeing Chicago’s data strategy during its response to the global pandemic and subsequent economic recovery. He has a law degree and a master’s degree in computer science from DePaul University, and a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in political science and psychology.

In addition, Kurt Peterson has been named as the City’s Chief Information Officer. In his new role, Peterson will manage the Bureau of Innovation and Technology at AIS (AIS IT). Under Peterson’s leadership, the City will implement technology that enables the city to work more efficiently. The City will also build tools that enable collaboration between departments, allowing them to provide better services.

Peterson has more than 25 years of experience in the private, not-for-profit, and public sectors, serving the City since 2011 as Deputy Commissioner and more recently as First Deputy Budget Director. He holds an M.S. degree in organizational leadership from Regis University, an M.Div. degree from North Park Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree from North Park University.

Information Technology Modernization (IT MOD)

The City is announcing an ambitious plan to transform its IT enterprise by modernizing legacy systems, processes, and services for users. These improvements will enable the City to accelerate its transition to more user-friendly, mobile-enabled, and modern methods of conducting business that are easier to use and accessible for all.

At present, City departments face challenges caused by paper-intensive systems, fragmented data, and aging legacy systems. The IT MOD covers a variety of IT activities including refreshing job titles, reengineering business processes, and replacing old computer systems.

The City is supplementing IT MOD with an innovation and solutions hub that solicits ideas from our employees and residents. The hub will enable collaboration between various stakeholders and the City of Chicago to complete rapid prototyping and solution implementation.

Chicago Digital Service

Another vital part of the City’s technology strategy is the Chicago Digital Service (Chicago Digital). Led by Nick Lucius, Chicago Digital is a collective of technology-focused city employees who work on product management, civic design, data, software engineering, and security. Members of Chicago Digital are staff and contractors who create tech products and apply the principles of Chicago Digital in their work.

“As a member of Mayor Lightfoot’s transition team, I recommended the creation of a digital service delivery team staffed by city employees. I am pleased to see the launch of Chicago Digital as the fulfillment of that goal,” said Derek Eder, co-founder and president of Chi Hack Night. “Chicago Digital will set an example for how cities can use technology to achieve goals in equity and service accessibility.”

Members of Chicago Digital were instrumental in helping the city of Chicago achieve a “What Works Cities” certification last year from Bloomberg Philanthropies for using data and evidence to improve residents’ lives.