Illinois Technology Association Announces IoT Award Winners

The Illinois Technology Association (ITA) announced today the winners of the Midwest IoT Innovation Awards. Nominated and selected by the ITA’s IoT Council, the awards were designed to highlight leaders in the Midwest IoT community, award excellence in the development and adoption of IoT innovations and send a strong message about the strength of the Midwest IoT ecosystem.

The winners will be recognized at The Sixth Annual IoT Summit, presented by CDW, in Chicago on Nov. 27-28 at The W Chicago City Center, 172 W. Adams Street.

IoT Advancement - Government/Academia/Non-profit: This award will go to a public sector organization that is enhancing our IoT ecosystem either through the development of IoT solutions or their implementation. Strong candidates in this category will be pushing the envelope of IoT itself or applying IoT to public sector process to drive better outcomes. Winner: The Array of Things

The air up there: Air quality sensors inhale slews of data

From wildfire smoke to traffic pollutants, air quality sensors track data to help city leaders make informed interventions, and their use across cities is growing.

Cities including Chicago, Seattle and Portland, OR have launched air quality sensor pilot programs. Chicago’s project began this year as part of its Array of Things (AoT) connected urban sensor program. The city currently has 100 devices installed and an additional 100 will be operational by year’s end, on the way to the ultimate goal of 500.

The existing units measure “seven different gases including ozone, carbon dioxide and nitrogen by using experimental electrochemical gas sensors. They also have particulate matter sensors,” Charlie Catlett, senior computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, told Smart Cities Dive.

Wrigley Field serves as classroom for Lane Tech students

Lane Tech College Prep High School students, in collaboration with the University of Chicago, will be installing sensor boxes at Wrigley Field to measure sound levels, customer satisfaction and air quality, among other things. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

When Cubs fans leave Wrigley Field starting Tuesday night, they may encounter a simple console with two circular buttons: one a red, angry face, the other a green, smiley face. The sensor will have a question attached asking fans about their experience at the ballpark and whether they would recommend a Wrigley visit to their family and friends.

But it won’t be Cubs executives on the other end monitoring the responses. Rather, each push of a button will be recorded and registered on the computers of Lane Tech High School students.


2018 NCWIT National AiC Educator Award Winner Jeff Solin

NCWIT Aspirations in Computing is pleased to announce that Lane Tech High School Computing Instructor Jeff Solin has been named the recipient of the 2018 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) National Educator Award!

This year’s recipient, Jeff Solin, left a career in the tech industry 17 years ago on what he describes as “a quest to help change Computer Science education.” After several years at Chicago’s Northside College Prep, Jeff joined the faculty at Lane Tech to help develop that school’s computer science department. Since he began teaching at Lane Tech, the department has grown from a single computer science teacher serving a student body of 4,400 to a robust staff of 10 full time teachers of different genders and backgrounds who offer a total of 12 different computing classes.

Podcast: Smart Sensors Capture Pulse of Chicago

Imagine a health monitor for the city, but instead of measuring heart rate or daily steps, this device measures everything from air quality to vehicle traffic.

The idea may sound like science fiction, but it’s becoming a reality for cities like Chicago through the Array of Things project, a collaborative effort between scientists, universities, local government and community members to collect real-time data on the city.

The project, based out of Argonne National Laboratory, is led by Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data at UChicago and Argonne. Catlett is aiming to install 500 sensor nodes around Chicago and eventually setup a network around the world “to improve living and working in the city.”

Sensing the City - With the Array of Things program, environmental inequity meets urban technology

These little plastic nodes are packed with sensors and backed by millions in federal funding. Eventually, the microwave-sized devices will make their way out to lampposts in Chicago or Detroit or Denver or beyond to quietly measure the world around them. They’ll look for traffic patterns, and they’ll measure sound. They’ll count particles in the air and note the amount of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants present. They’ll measure vibration, magnetic fields, and light. And if all goes according to plan, they’ll send this information back to a database where scientists, city officials, hacktivists, and residents will be able to access and analyze the streams of hyperlocal data.

This is the vision of the Array of Things (AoT), a joint initiative between Argonne, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory operated by a subsidiary of the University of Chicago, the University of Chicago, the City of Chicago, and various technology firms. The project expects to start publishing data from its preliminary nodes to the city’s open-data portal earlier this year, at which point they hope to have a hundred of them up around the city quietly quantifying the traffic, noise, and emissions that make city living unpleasant at least, and environmentally unjust at worst.

A Guide to Chicago's Array of Things Initiative

If you’re a frequent reader of all things civic tech, then you may have already come across the Array of Things (AoT).  Launched in 2016, the project, which consists of a network of sensor boxes mounted on light posts, has now begun collecting a host of real-time data on Chicago’s environmental surroundings and urban activity.   After installing a small number of sensors downtown and elsewhere in 2016, Chicago is now adding additional sensors across the city and the city’s data portal currently lists locations for all of AoT’s active and yet-to-be installed sensors.  Next year, data collected from AoT will be accessible online, providing valuable information for researchers, urban planners, and the general public. 

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Public Opinion Often Sets Privacy Standards for Smart City Tech

ATLANTA — As cities have begun to collect and release unprecedented amounts of data, questions about citizen privacy have become increasingly relevant. Local governments, for their part, often lack specific privacy policies and rely on checks such as community outcry, industry best practices and guidance from law professors to dictate the limits of their work. This was an overarching topic at many panels during the recent MetroLab Annual Summit.

Perception is also important, as Chicago and its collaborators learned upon launching the Array of Things project, an influential smart cities initiative made up of thousands of nodes. Array of Things, which is in the process of being spread to other cities, was born of a collaboration between the city and researchers at the University of Chicago, like Charlie Catlett, the director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data. 

Catlett said that when they were first setting up the nodes that collect data for the Array of Things project, the community was skeptical of any government effort to collect info, so technologists had to learn to become very deliberate when they explained what they were doing and why.

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How Cities Use HPC at the Edge to Get Smarter

Speaking at SC17 in Denver this week, a panel of smart city practitioners shared the strategies, techniques and technologies they use to understand their cities better and to improve the lives of their residents. With data coming in from all over the urban landscape and worked over by machine learning algorithms, Debra Lam, managing director for smart cities & inclusive innovation at Georgia Tech who works on strategies for Atlanta and the surrounding area, said “we’ve embedded research and development into city operations, we’ve formed a match making exercise between the needs of the city coupled with the most advanced research techniques.”

Panel moderator Charlie Cattlett, director, urban center for computation & data Argonne National Laboratory who works on smart city strategies for Chicago, said that the scale of data involved in complex, long-term modeling will require nothing less than the most powerful supercomputers, including the next generation of exascale systems under development within the Department of Energy. The vision for exascale, he said, is to build “a framework for different computation models to be coupled together in multiple scales to look at long-range forecasting for cities.”