CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a major accountability and transparency initiative designed to help local governments expand the amount of data available to the public. The Illinois Open Technology Challenge is a pilot initiative that will make Illinois’ open data platform, Data.Illinois.Gov, available to municipal governments statewide. The Challenge, which will launch in the pilot communities of Belleville, Champaign, Rockford, and Chicago’s South Suburbs, will promote the availability of public data and encourage the use of technology to address government challenges through innovation and entrepreneurship.
“We live in a knowledge economy that is driven by access to information and new ideas,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Open Technology Challenge will not only increase transparency at the local level by giving the public access to government data, it will give entrepreneurs the chance to develop new, innovative applications for the data that will create jobs and make a positive impact.”
ILOpenTech (www.illinoisopentech.org) builds on the state’s leadership role around open data and Governor Quinn’s recently issued Executive Order establishing a new state Open Operating Standard. The state’s support of 2011’s Apps for Metro Chicago Illinois competition produced winners like iFindit, an innovative application that provides information on food, housing and medical care to the homeless and OkCopay, which is a directory of affordable medical care for those without insurance. The initiative brings together local governments with developers, area universities, nonprofits and community leaders in a common mission to use public data to create digital tools that serve civic needs and promote economic development across Illinois. The competition will include at least $75,000 in prize funding, which will be awarded to Illinois’ most innovative developers who solve a digital problem in one of the four pilot communities. An additional prize will be awarded to the developer of the strongest application with a statewide purpose. A demonstration day and the announcement of prize winners are anticipated in early 2013.
ILOpenTech challenges the pilot communities to both transform currently available data into usable applications as well as produce new datasets that will be uploaded to the state site. The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA) currently publishes data on a wide range of regional resources including transportation, infrastructure and housing. With the availability of the state portal, that data will be more easily accessible to the general public for download and analysis.
“In Rockford, we are searching for solutions to the economic challenges we face and are thirsty for new ideas,” said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. “We’re excited to see what creative solutions local talent can produce though our participation in this initiative and look forward to showcasing new innovations in Rockford’s government.”
“The Illinois Open Technology Challenge will help to make better connections across our community in leveraging the tremendous tech talent here to better understand what applications and will best serve civic needs,” said Champaign Mayor Don Gerard. “We are thrilled to join in this effort to advance the open data movement.”
“We have collected a lot of data on economic development, housing, infrastructure, planning, and natural resources, which is a powerful tool for our region,” said Edward Paesel, executive director of the SSMMA. “The Illinois Open Technology Challenge will help us put this data to use for interactive applications that help promote economic development for our municipalities across the region.”
“Increasing access to the information collected by the city of Belleville will lead to better government, more informed citizens, and exciting new innovations,” said Belleville mayor Mark Eckert. “We are excited to be working with the state of Illinois to see new companies and jobs being created out of this innovative program.”
The State of Illinois Open Data site, Data.Illinois.Gov, is a searchable clearinghouse of information from state agencies that is helping inform residents about the operation of state government and encouraging the creative use of state information, including the development of applications for mobile devices that can be built around the data. This site, which the governor launched in June 2011, now contains more than 6,500 data sets.
Sponsors of the Illinois Open Technology Challenge include the Chicago Community Trust, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Google, and the Motorola Mobility Foundation. Additional support is being provided by Comcast. Administrative support for the project is provided by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition and Smart Chicago Collaborative.
This is another initiative of the Illinois Innovation Council, created by Governor Quinn in February 2011, to promote economic development through innovation and the engagement of citizens, developers, academia and industry. For more information, please visit www.illinoisinnovation.org.
For more information on the Illinois Open Technology Challenge, including competition rules, submission requirements, and ways to engage, visit www.illinoisopentech.org.
CONTACT: Brooke Anderson (o. 312-814-3158; c. 312-590-0195)
© Illinois Science and Technology Coalition
Illustration by Dieter Braun