“When you talk about impact — which we all want to have — they’re making impact for millions of people right now, in this moment, on the Internet,” O’Neil said.
The firm is based in Washington, D.C., but O’Neil said he’ll work remotely and remain based in Chicago. He plans to stay involved in Chicago’s civic technology community.
“I will continue to have a voice as a resident of this city in the way things are run and how they go,” O’Neil said. “You can’t build good products for hundreds of millions of people in this country without caring about their digital skills and their access to your tools.”
Today I published an article in Civicist that lays out the enormous investments made at Smart Chicago in civic tech and questions whether those were the right models. It lays the foundation for a more serious discussion of community technology organizing models we’ve pioneered at Smart Chicago. Here’s a snip:
Smart Chicago’s focus is on the unmet technology organizing needs in neighborhoods all over the city.
Sustainability of civic tech organizing is basically resolved in Chicago. What remains is a city of 2.7 people million with precious few invitations to range beyond their own block, very few jobs in tech for people with low to medium digital skills, and very few ways to listen and hear the needs of the people.
I believe in the power of bringing regular Chicago residents together to plan our collective future. I also believe it’s easy to have easy conversations— to create a private space among friends to talk about and celebrate our shared work.
But we just can’t afford to do that in Chicago today. We are in the middle of a series of crises around policing, education, the use of public space, and how to pay for the things we need. On The Table is far too important a tool to use for discussions that don’t go to the core.
The October 20, 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald at 4100 S. Pulaski was a seminal event in this city. The reverberations are still being felt in the publication of recommendations from the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, in the Pattern or Practice Investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice, and in continued protests in the streets and at the doors of power. This conversation will focus on one aspect of power: video surveillance. Our venue will be the Burger King where 86 minutes of recording went missing on the morning after McDonald’s death.