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Governor Quinn Announces Winners of Illinois Open Technology Challenge

Press Release - Thursday, June 27, 2013

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn announced today the winning entries in the pilot competition of the Illinois Open Technology Challenge (ILOpenTech). A total of $60,000 was awarded to four winning teams of developers who created digital tools that utilize open government data for the benefit of Illinois residents and their communities.

Each winning entry was awarded $15,000 and was focused on one of three pilot locations - Champaign, Belleville and a group of South Suburban communities under the auspices of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA) - as well as an entry designed for use statewide. The city of Rockford also participated as a fourth pilot community, playing host to a series of developer meet-ups. Rockford's participation will culminate in an open tech app hackathon later this month, the winner(s) of which will receive a $15,000 prize.

"We commend these enterprising developers for applying their skills toward making municipal government more transparent and accessible for Illinoisans," Governor Quinn said. "This first-of-its-kind initiative clearly demonstrates that Illinois is taking a national leadership role in embracing digital government and promoting open data, which is spurring more innovation and economic development statewide."

Winning entries of the competition include:

  • State of Illinois: iApplied, a web app that tracks job application activity in an effort to help government unemployment security workers streamline the review process for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Belleville: Belleville Code, a centralized easy-to-navigate website containing the Revised City Ordinances of Belleville. An essential tool for anyone interested in economic development and entrepreneurship, the website's content was previously only available within 1,000 pages of PDFs housed on the City Clerk's website.
  • Champaign: C-U There!, a "tour guide" app for iPhone that features local news and event feeds, comprehensive parking location information and directories of historic landmarks and local businesses in Champaign-Urbana.
  • SSMMA: South Suburbs Housing Investment Tool, an online tool that allows users to analyze, score and rank potential housing development projects according to their proposed location. The tool also superimposes the data on a fully navigable map.

"It is my hope that iApplied will reduce government staff workloads, encourage unemployment beneficiaries to apply for jobs and ultimately make more efficient use of taxpayer dollars," said Tyron Foston of Park Forest, who developed iApplied. "If it improves unemployment benefit operations in Illinois, iApplied could be adopted by other states around the nation."

Foston decided to create iApplied after speaking with some of his unemployed friends and realizing a need for a more effective, streamlined system to verify eligibility for unemployment benefits. He consulted with businesses and municipal employees who provided positive feedback on the tool. Foston plans to use the award money to further develop iApplied to bring it to market.

ILOpenTech is an initiative of Governor Quinn's Illinois Innovation Council and is managed by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) in partnership with the Smart Chicago Collaborative. The program is focused on making Illinois' open data platform, Data.Illinois.Gov, available and applicable to communities statewide through trainings, community meet-ups and hackathons, bringing together technology developers with civic leaders and community groups. The challenge was sponsored by the Chicago Community Trust, Comcast, Google, Illinois Innovation Council, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Motorola Mobility Foundation.

ILOpenTech is the state's first sustained, engaged initiative outside the Chicago metro area to work hands-on with local governments and developers on the collection and publication of open data. It has created a strong foundation for starting or accelerating open data projects statewide by helping municipalities understand the nuts and bolts of using open data to drive innovation.

In advance of the competition, ILOpenTech worked with 12 government IT professionals in the four pilot communities to compile and publish 138 new sets of data about local government operations to Data.Illinois.Gov: 34 in Champaign, 15 in Rockford, 12 in Belleville and 77 from the 42 communities in the SSMMA.

"We are excited to explore ways that SSMMA and our member communities can apply the South Suburbs Housing Investment Tool to the housing development process," said Ed Paesel, executive director of the SSMMA. "ILOpenTech has galvanized South Suburban communities to strengthen their commitment to open data and increased government transparency."

"Throughout this first phase of ILOpenTech, we've seen the tremendous opportunity in gathering and packaging local government data in new ways that are useful to the general public," said ISTC President and CEO Mark Harris. "By fostering partnerships between municipal governments and the Illinois developer community, we can increase transparency and accessibility, and spark innovation in both government and business."

About the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) is a member-driven, nonprofit organization that works to cultivate and attract research and technology-based investment, talent and job growth in the state. Through strategic public-private partnerships, advocacy efforts and project management, ISTC connects government, academia and industry to leverage the state's world-class resources to enhance Illinois' position as a global hub for research, innovation and entrepreneurship. For more information, visit

About the Smart Chicago Collaborative

The Smart Chicago Collaborative is an initiative that helps build the long-term capacity of the city of Chicago and its neighborhoods to realize the transformative potential of information technology. For more information, visit

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