Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel intends to eventually open the city’s 311 system to the public, he announced on Wednesday, April 6, during a tour of the Microsoft Chicago Technology Center.

In a statement on his blog, Emanuel touted the advantages of an interactive 311 system, stating that making data available in real time would help engage the public and in turn, improve transparency in the city.

“Anyone will be able to use a mobile device or computer to report a problem and send in an accompanying photo and the information will be available to the public as well as to the relevant government authority,” Emanuel said. “Citizens will be empowered to monitor trends in complaints and communicate about them with the city and with each other.”

 

While visiting with Microsoft, Emanuel talked about open government and its benefits and how he’s soliciting ideas from citizens on his transition website regarding transparency.

 

Stuart McKee, national technology officer of Microsoft, said his company was pleased Emanuel took the time to visit with them and was impressed with the mayor-elect’s desire to look at pragmatic examples of how technology can be used creatively.

 

“He was pretty clear technology is going to be an important part of his strategy to reach his goals,” McKee said of Emanuel. “I think right now in the open government space … there is a big push about more data … but a bureaucracy pumping out more [data] isn’t necessarily better. The real answer for open government should be about more information that citizens can use. That was part of [the] conversation.”

 

During the discussion, Microsoft also demonstrated HeyGov!, a cloud-based 311 program from Microsoft partner Internet Systems Consortium. San Francisco and Miami are two cities currently using the program in conjunction with their 311 systems.

 

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1999, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.