With daughter Mabel on one of their frequent “pretend missions.”
CIO and Commissioner
Department of Innovation and Technology
City of Chicago, Illinois
Chicago wanted to build a technology platform to collect information about livability issues that could be applied to urban planning and design.
Through a National Science Foundation research grant, awarded to the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, launched a pilot program last year to build a platform called the Array of Things (AoT), a sort of “Fitbit” to track climate, air quality, and noise on a block-by-block basis.
Small boxes are mounted on streetlights, look like beehives, and have multiple sensors that can collect highly accurate micro-data on temperature, barometric pressure, light, and pollution. They can also capture vibration, sound intensity, and images that allow the users to see things like cloud cover, or the number of pedestrians on a sidewalk, bicycles on a street, or vehicles in an intersection.
The technology can be used for such purposes as providing citizens information useful in their daily lives, to address larger community concerns, or for academic research. As examples, a researcher may be interested in understanding walkability in a neighborhood; air-quality sensors can help residents with asthma by providing alerts; or the city may leverage data to automatically deploy services to deal with standing water instead of waiting for it to be reported.
An initial 40 locations have been decided, nodes are being installed, and the city has begun identifying the next 60 deployments.
Leads efforts to improve how city residents interact with their government as well as creating smart city initiatives like AoT. Has over 100 staff members who provide IT and innovation services to about 30 departments. Leads modernization of the city’s 311 system, and is working with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (which helps finance “transformative” urban projects) on the recently launched Chicago smart lighting initiative.
Born in Chicago, grew up in ‘burbs where she was editor-in-chief of high school newspaper. Bachelors in English lit and rhetoric from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (’99); master’s in library and information science from University of Maryland, College Park. Married with a 3-year-old daughter. Makes and has sold crafts like handbags at fairs and stitches her own curtains.
Currently sewing a stuffed “Jabberwocky” for her daughter, based on a favorite board book illustration by Alison Oliver. (Yes, from the famous Lewis Carroll poem, “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves….”)