There is a Chicago School of Data emerging—one that places data at the service of people.

The Smart Chicago Collaborative has been researching Chicago people & organizations who do this work. Now we're hosting a conference so we can all meet & share with each other, and then we'll publish a book describing this ecosystem in early 2015.

We need *you* in order to make this project great. If you have any inkling that you use data to improve lives in Chicago, we need to hear your voice. Start by completing this census form. Over 200 organizations have already added their voice and described their use of data.

Then join us at the Chicago School of Data Days conference on September 19-20, 2014 at the Willis Tower.


We are holding the Chicago School of Data Days conference on September 19-20, 2014. The two day experience is wholly based on the feedback we’ve received from dozens of surveys, months of interviews, and a huge amount of research into the work being done with data in the service of people.


We heard from organizations about their experiences and greatest challenges faced using data. Some organizations experience gaps in infratructure, affordability of certain data tools and analysis, and access. We want to focus on these gaps and have organizations that face these challenges share their experiences or solutions.


Through our discussions, we heard from organizations that the top skills organizations currently lack or need help developing include: data analysis, visualization, data management, and data preparation. We want to discuss not only resources that currently exist, but also focus on open source projects.


Chicago has one of the most mature ecosystems focused on technology and skills building. We want to highlight opportunities for organizations to learn about resources that already exist and discover new opportunities for new on-ramps through our regional ecosystem.

Sharing & Privacy

There is an interest in sharing data and participating in open data initiatives. There also exists an interest in understanding what and how other organizations are doing.

Accessing Data

Sometimes, the biggest barrier organizations face is accessing the data they need. We want organizations to share about their experiences accessing data, and then cover modes of access including searching and scraping, Freedom of Information Act, Memorandum of Understanding, City, County and State data portals, and simply asking in a culture of sharing.


Based on our surveys and interviews, we learned that the top tools organizations use include: desktop and online spreadsheets, Web site data analysis tools, and online surveys. We want to discuss resources to collect, clean and map data.