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Danielle DuMerer

CIO, Chicago

former Chicago CIO Danielle DuMerer
David Kidd/Government Technology
In Chicago, new IT systems, like an updated 311 service, the Array of Things IoT project or even CityKey, a municipal ID card that eases access to government services, are of little use if they do not have buy-in from the community. This is what Danielle DuMerer, Chicago’s chief information officer, keeps in mind as she develops strategies for citywide tech projects. “One of the things our team feels strongly about is, it’s people first, and technology second,” she said. 

DuMerer, a more than 10-year veteran of the IT department, continues to return to the many communities representing Chicago and its 2.7 million residents to plan and roll out new technologies, like the modernized 311 system.  

“We’ve had a very concerted effort to bring our residents into the design process,” she said. “We have focus groups across the city, and in particular we’ve sited them in libraries and communities where there were lower levels of adoption, so that hopefully we can get more voices and create a service that’s really going to work well for them.” When the city tested the new service, it made sure to carry out the pre-launch trials in the same locations — libraries and communities — throughout the city.

Since the launch of the new system, DuMerer’s office has been hosting community engagement events to further participation. “Now that we’ve launched the system we can say, are there places where we should be doing more promotion? We do want to see more engagement with the community,” DuMerer explained. 

As further evidence of the department’s commitment to customer-focused design under DuMerer’s leadership, Chicago added a new digital experience and design director position to the Department of Innovation and Technology. With 30 city departments to support and the third largest population in the country, that’s a lot of customer experiences to worry about. 

But this approach is in keeping with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for the city, said DuMerer. “Chicago is a responsive city where technology fuels inclusion, engagement, innovation and opportunity for everyone.” These pursuits are in capable hands with DuMerer at the helm. 
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.