Chicago’s SmartData Platform

BrennaBerman_19SmartData Platform is a fascinating tool for accurate and calculated decision making in the city of Chicago through the use of Big Data. Its an opensource initiative which aims at the use of predictive analytics. The first stage of the project is complete. The first tool is called Windygrid, which presents a unified view of operational data for all public safety agencies on a single dashboard. Different kinds of data are displayed in a user-friendly single graphical interface which allows users to make queries and receive automatic updates and alerts.


In addition to helping city managers analyze trend data and engage in predictive problem-solving, the city wants to share the platform with other cities that cannot build the capacity themselves. for data-driven decisions to solve social problems. Through this tool, relationships in the data can be analyzed quickly, e.g. queries on traffic patterns and pedestrian activity for a certain area of the city, weather patterns, traffic signal times etc. Such data will help develop prediction of where intervention is needed to reduce pedestrian traffic collisions.

Potential Negatives:

The project is funded with a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and was presented in the Mayor’s Challenge. There are great expectations from this project that it can run and be spread out to other cities. Managing big data and big promise is a challenge and will take time to actually get translated into solution of social problems.

Final Verdict:

The platform is opensource i.e. free to copy, alter and reproduce. It is risk-averse, has a scalable design and user-friendly interface. It is designed to by used by the average office staffer and across departments and so it does not essentially require a savvy analyst, as authorities claim. SmartData platform is yet to get fully functional and one can only wait for its roll out to other cities to see how it turns out to be.

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