PANEL: LISC Chicago Five Big Ideas

Today I took part in a panel for the 18th annual LISC Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards. The panel was called “5 Big Ideas” and the format was 5 ideas expressed in 15 images on 15 slides for 15 seconds each. I used images from my own Flickr account and I was pretty pleased with how it worked out. Here’s the presentation:

And here’s a pic I took during the panel onstage at the Hilton:

From the stage

More on the entire CNDA program here.

News Article: Code experts take a crack at upgrading Chicago’s 311 system

Here’s an article from today’s Chicago Sun-Times about the Code for America project:

Code experts take a crack at upgrading Chicago’s 311 system

BY SANDRA GUY Business Reporter/ February 2, 2012 7:02PM

Chicagoans should be able to more extensively track 311 calls and the city’s responses online, thanks to a team of software coders here to upgrade the system.

Chicago is one of eight cities nationwide that won the coders’ five-week consultation in a competition. The competition’s sponsor, Code for America, is a San Francisco-based non-profit whose mission is to “help governments work better” with the power of the web.

The coding team spent Thursday in class learning how 311 center operators do their jobs.

The team members are visual and user experience designer Angel Kittiyachavalit, web developer Ben Sheldon, software engineer Jesse Bounds and user interface designer Rob Brackett.

Daniel X. O’Neil, executive director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, which is funding the Code for America Project, said the effort will give local software developers access to a much greater array of data that should make people’s lives easier.

John Tolva, the city’s chief technology officer, said the coders will deploy an “Open 311” standard that will allow the developers to create mobile and web-based apps that do things the Open 311 system cannot do today, such as verifying addresses to more easily track city services and view 311 responses across a number of different city departments.

“Many requests, such as filling a pothole, have multiple stages and involve more than one agency, such as both the water department and the city’s transportation department,” he said “Just stabilizing a programming interface will let developers come up with apps to track those kinds of services.”

“We will eventually get an ecosystem of apps, and the individual developers will make money because they sell the apps in app stores,” Tolva said. “It will become an index of what a neighborhood cares about, and everyone, including the alderman, can see it.”

Ethics Page #1

Note: this is the first edition of the Ethics page of my personal website. It was published on February 2, 2012 and replaced on March 10, 2014. It is kept here as a blog post for archival purposes.

Statement of Personal Ethics, Potential Biases, and Possible Conflicts of Interest

Being an ethical person is important to me, and I think it’s useful to know where people are coming from. Here’s some info on that for me.

Starting from the hearth and moving outward, I am married to Shawn-Laree O’Neil, who runs her own public relations business. There is no overlap between her clients and the entities with which I work.

We live in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, often with my two children, who mainly live with their mother in a suburb west of Chicago. I spend a lot of time out there as well, to the point that I’m basically a city mouse/ country mouse. I am currently the room mother parent for my youngest child’s classroom.

I’ve got a pretty large family of origin, with six siblings, three of whom live in Chicago. There is no overlap between their financial matters and mine. My brother Kevin runs the CTA Tattler blog, which I helped him set up, and I’ve worked with him in the past on some civic technology projects like CTA Alerts.

I am employed as the Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, and that is where I get the bulk of my income. I report to— and my actions are governed by— an Advisory Committee made up of leaders from its three founding organizations— the City of Chicago,  The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust.

I care about and coordinate my actions with the municipal government of the City of Chicago. Not just because it’s a part of my job, but because I care about its success. I’m in contact with people in City government nearly every day. I go to work in the offices of the Chicago Community Trust, and am officially an employee there. I work with Trust colleagues on other matters of interest to the Trust, not just Smart Chicago. Smart Chicago receives the bulk of its operating funds from the MacArthur Foundation at this time and I work closely with people there on lots of initiatives.

I am a Director of the Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation, “a non-profit corporation that provides instructional programming to schools in Chicago area using frequencies reserved by the FCC for delivery of educational programming via an EBS system.” Smart Chicago has no relationship with CITF, but the organization’s goals are parallel in some ways, especially around broadband adoption. CITF is a foundation partner of Mobile Citizen, a service that provides low-cost mobile Internet exclusively for schools and nonprofit organizations. I also serve on the Finance Committee of the EBS Financial Advisory Committee in connection with my work at CITF. I receive no compensation for this service, although I do receive travel and accommodations to attend meetings in cities outside of Chicago.

I advise other organizations in quasi-official capacities as well. I will post them here if/when they rise above that.

I am now and I have always been a member of the Democratic Party, and I can be generally described as a “Big City Democrat”. Some current real-world manifestations of this are that I think President Barack Obama is doing a great job, and I want him to be re-elected to a second term. At election time I usually write down why I’m voting the way I am, like an October 2008 screed about Sobbing Southbound. I worked for and contributed to David Hoffman for U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2010. I voted for Rahm Emanuel for Mayor of the City of Chicago in 2011. I live in the 32nd Ward and I am a fan of my Alderman, Scott Waguespack. Lastly, I have a placeholder organization called CampaignSwing, under which I organize some of my political consulting work.

I am a recovering alcoholic and have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous since September 10, 2000. I seek to practice these principles in all of my affairs.

I am a Catholic and love being one. I own the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and I carry it around for fun. Like almost every other Catholic I know, I am highly supportive of things like the right of women to choose what to do with their bodies and the right of all people to love and marry whomever they want. I justify this by referring to the Nicene Creed that we say in Mass— as long as I believe every single word in there (and I do), I am a Catholic.

I teach CCD, and I inject these principles of tolerance and essential doctrine into my teaching. In general, I teach the kids that Jesus was down with all sorts of people and if He came down from heaven today, he wouldn’t be in a tizzy about some of the nitpicky baloney that “religious” people get worked up about.

Like everybody else, you can tell a lot about me from the company I keep. I’m not the world’s biggest retweeter of things, but the normal admonitions that retweets are not endorsements apply. The idea that “opinions are my own” should go unsaid, even though I just said it.

I own a lot of domain names and have a lot of side projects. I write about them on this self-named Web site and you can see screenshots of pretty much everything I do as well. In one of these projects— CTA Alerts— I monitor Twitter and the Chicago Transit Authority’s Alerts API for information about service outages. I’ve work with Harper Reed on this and a bunch of other projects.

NEWS ARTICLE: HuffPo Chicago Article re: Code for America Project

Today the Huffington Post Chicago published a piece highlighting the work of the Code for America fellows: Code For America In Chicago: Open311 Will Be City’s Next Big Tech Move. Snip:

Daniel X. O’Neil, executive director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, wrote the CFA application for the city, and his group will be working with the CFA fellows throughout this process. He said the CFA team will create “a lot of reusable code,” which can then be transformed into anything that imaginative Chicagoans can dream up. In Philadelphia, for example, developers using CFA infrastructure and available data were able to create MuralApp, a mobile site that locates murals and other public art around the city.