Chicago launches innovation fund, asks city depts to create apps

Chicago was one of the first cities to release government data with the hope of enticing civic hackers to create apps to help citizens and government improve services. So far, the experiment has been successful with several new applications powered by government data coming online for citizens. Now, city officials hope to expand these efforts by asking city departments to build apps for themselves and committing $20 million to help them.

The city is launching a $20 million innovation fund to incentivize city officials to create new applications designed to improve services, increase transparency and create deeper interactions with government data. The fund will be administered by the Office of Management and Budget. Applications will be due by February 15th.

The Chicago Sun-Times has a video with Chicago CTO John Tolva explaining the competition and what it will mean for the city. Judges will pick single out applications based on innovation, improvements in accountability or entrepreneurship. The judges will be city alderman and cabinet leaders with backgrounds in finance and industry.

Chicago is already working with code for the federal IT dashboard which was released as open source code early last year. The city hopes that by asking departments to create new applications, those most familiar with city data will be able to craft solutions that benefit the department as well as citizens. City officials are also trying to encourage students with technology interests to get involved by working with the city’s open data.