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Illinois Open Technology Challenge set Jan. 17 at NIU-Rockford to pair local needs, providers

January 8, 2013

Logo of the Illinois Open Technology ChallengeNIU-Rockford will host one of four events this month sponsored by the Illinois Open Technology Challenge.

The event is scheduled from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, in Room 101 of the NIU regional center at 8500 E. State St.

ILOpenTech brings governments, developers and communities together in a common mission to use public data to create digital tools that will serve today’s civic needs and promote economic development.

The initiative’s new, multi-month pilot communities program aims to make Illinois’ open data platform, Data.Illinois.Gov, available statewide. Organizers are hosting government trainings, community meetings and “hackathons” to help develop a real community where sustainable civic results are born and developers will prosper.

At least $75,000 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 pilot communities, which include Rockford, Belleville, Champaign and Chicago’s South Suburban area.

Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois Innovation Council have been instrumental in making Illinois a leader in open data.



The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition is working with the Smart Chicago Collaborative and the State of Illinois to provide these communities with the tools to:

  • publish data;
  • reward entrepreneurs and developers who create new technology and bring it to the public; and
  • bring community organizations together to understand how to use that technology.

Data.Illinois.Gov is an online repository for information collected and maintained by the State of Illinois. The site encourages public participation in government by empowering Illinois’ innovators to use government data in new and creative ways. Its user-friendly interface describes what data is available, how it can be accessed and different tools for making use of it.

Each pilot community event will include time for “Ideas + Matching,” when anyone with ideas can make pitches for others to join them by talking about what data they would like to use and what community issues they hope to solve. Easels, large Post-It notes, markers and more will be available to help thinkers express themselves.

Afterward, teams will split off into groups and start planning their work. Participants are encouraged to to walk around and hear from several people and teams. By 8 p.m., the entire group will come back together to hear from each team and to plan next steps.

For more information, call (773) 960-6045 or email [email protected].