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Illinois Open Data Challenge Begins in the South Suburbs

The first of four Illinois Open Technology Challenge (ILOpenTech) meetings kicked off at Governors State University on Nov. 27, hosted by SSMMA, ISTC and the Smart Chicago Collaborative. Gov. Pat Quinn’s challenge to develop innovative software applications (apps) using open data is also taking place in Belleville, Champaign and Rockford. Read more about the announcement on the Challenge blog.

Participants discussed using open data in apps to get information that describes an area’s or a property’s foreclosure activity, water capacity, nearby natural areas or parks, crime statistics, historical data, nearby schools and more…information that is most desirable to potential developers or investors. Examples of open data include building permits, city budgets, inspections, land use, capital improvements, fire and police calls and zoning.

The event was modeled after a competition held last year in Chicago: Apps 4 Metro Chicago Illinois (A4MC). The State of Illinois, Cook County and the City of Chicago participated. This was the first government-sponsored apps competition in Chicago, and the first anywhere that included collaboration among three different units of government.

The multi-month initiative aims to make Illinois’ open data platform, Data.Illinois.Gov, available statewide, and host government trainings, community meetings and hackathons that will bring together developers in technology with civic-minded individuals and organizations. The goal is to help develop a real community where sustainable civic results occur and economic development is spurred.

Some of the apps developed thus far include public transit schedules, crime viewers, recycle helpers, vacant building finders, a TIF viewer, a street parking finder, nearby children’s activities going on at the moment and more.

Apps can also be used by people in certain professions or circumstances. For instance, the IFindIt app for social workers, case managers, providers and residents provides quick information regarding access to food, shelter and medical care in their area.

At least $75K in total prize money will be awarded to any individual, or team of individuals for developing innovative software applications that utilize open government data to best address the challenges in one of the four communities.

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