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Chicago Is The Most Innovative Big City In America.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on May 28, 2008

What US city has a Department of Innovation and Technology? Chicago. And none other, as far as I know (maybe Portland, OR?) I met Hardik Bhatt, Chief Information Officer of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology at the recent IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference and was blown away by the work being done by the city. Mayor Daley “gets” design and there are several projects under way using design methodology to solve serious problems.

There is even a Chicago Innovation Awards program that makes the city stand out from others.

One is vacant, abandoned houses and their impact on crime in neighborhoods. By shifting efforts to how people living in those neighborhoods experience these houses instead of focussing on the administraton of structures, the city is better able to meet their needs. I was struck by the video presented by David Sonders, a recent graduate of the Institute of Design, who worked on a Troubled Buildings project with the city. The video showed people living near vacant houses talking about their lives. It was all about the danger surrounding these building—gangs moving in, being people hurt, fear of reporting. Safety was the immediate concern, not lost housing per se.

London, Stockholm, Singapore and other cities are far ahead of US cities in using design methods to improve the deliver of services. Chicago is leading the way.
The immediate solution was more police protection, followed by the entrance of artists and others looking for low rent housing. Then came gentrification.

Reader Comments


May 28, 2008 8:33 PM

focussing? administraton?

Paula Thornton

May 30, 2008 8:06 PM

Well there's talking and then there's doing. Not to diminish the wonderful mecca that Chicago has clearly proven to be (and continues to be) for design professionals, Seattle as a city embodies the practice of design. A piece still in my head about all of the natural attributes of living in the city that evoke design even subconsciously among the uninitiated, my guess is that design/innovation is so second nature to the city that there's no need for specific roles (e.g.,,_WA_Creating_the_Task_Force_on_Telecommunications_Innovation).


May 31, 2008 9:17 AM

Chicago is,was and always will be the second city others want to follow

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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