Civic apps built with open data

Open City was a volunteer group that created civic apps with open data to improve transparency and understanding of our government in Chicago.

We are no longer actively releasing apps under Open City, but the work continues and thrives every Tuesday night at Chi Hack Night in Chicago.


All of our projects are open source and free to use under the MIT license.

My Building Doesn't Recycle! My Building Doesn't Recycle!
No recycling in your building? Tell us about it! Chicago law requires buildings with 5 or more residential units to provide adequate recycling services to occupants. However, the City of Chicago does not enforce this law—and this leads many landlords NOT to provide recycling services to tenants. Add your report to our registry to show that your building does not recycle.
GitHub repository
Team: Claire Micklin, Ben Wilhelm and Alex Kahn
Transit Future Transit Future (inactive)
An interactive map that explains the Transit Future, a campaign to get Cook County to build a dozen new rail lines by creating a dedicated local revenue stream.
GitHub repository
Team: Edward Oser, Catalina Velez, Nick Doiron, Juan-Pablo Velez
Collabotors: Cartografika, Center for Neighborhood Technology
Is there sewage in the Chicago River? Is there sewage in the Chicago River?
Every so often when Chicago gets a lot of rain or there's a significant snowmelt, the Chicagoland water management agencies pump excess wastewater into the lake and river in order to prevent flooding. This site notifies Chicagoans when this happens.
GitHub repository
Team: Derek Eder, Forest Gregg, Eric van Zanten, Scott Beslow and Andrew Clarke
Chicago Councilmatic Chicago Councilmatic
Are you curious about what legislation the Chicago City Council has been passing? Search, browse, subscribe and comment on everything the City Council has done since Jan 1st 2010.
GitHub repository
Now maintained by DataMade
Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy meetings, or CAPS meetings, are recurring events with the Chicago Police Department and Chicago residents that encourage community members and police to work together to reduce crime. CAPSure lets you find out when and where your next meeting is, in an effort to increase the level of citizen participation.
GitHub repository
Team: Derek Eder, Nick Doiron, Forest Gregg and Aya O'Connor
2nd City Zoning 2nd City Zoning
2nd City Zoning is an interactive map that lets you find out how your building is zoned, learn where to locate your business and explore zoning patterns throughout the city. To make Chicago’s zoning code digestible by humans, we took inspiration from one of our favorite games: Sim City 2000.
GitHub repository
Team: Derek Eder and Juan-Pablo Velez
Now maintained by DataMade
Edifice Edifice
Edifice is a series of maps that explore Chicago's built environment, from building footprints, to violations demolitions, and new construction.
GitHub repository
Team: Cory Mollet and Juan-Pablo Velez
How's Business? How's Business?
How’s Business provides a dashboard of Chicago’s local economy. It uses open data from the City of Chicago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Woodstock Institute to show how several economic indicators have been trending since 2005.
GitHub repository
Team: Daniel Morton, Derek Eder, Forest Gregg and Matt Gee
Crime in Chicago Crime in Chicago
Crime in Chicago is a data visualization that lets you explore crime trends in Chicago's 50 wards. It was built using open data about Chicago crimes released by the Chicago Police Department.
GitHub repository
Team: Nick Rougeux, Chad W Pry, Derek Eder, Paul Baker, Jim Breen and Juan-Pablo Velez
Chicago Public School Tiers Chicago Public School Tiers
In Chicago, a student's chance of getting into the city's top, selective schools depends on where he or she lives. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) places every part of the city into one of four socio-economic "tiers" and requires selective schools to reserve the same number of spots for the students from each tier. This tool helps you find what CPS tier your are in.
GitHub repository
Team: Forest Gregg, Derek Eder and Juan-Pablo Velez
ClearStreets ClearStreets
On January 3rd 2012, the City of Chicago launched Plow Tracker , an app that tracks the city's snow plows in real time. This app uses the same data. By knowing where the plows are, we've figured out which streets have been plowed. Featured in Google's Fusion Tables Example Gallery.
GitHub repository
Now maintained by DataMade
Chicago Lobbyists Chicago Lobbyists is an open data, open government, and open source project intended to improve the transparency of interactions between the City of Chicago and lobbyists and their clients.
GitHub repository | Chicago Lobbyists blog
Team: Chad W Pry, Ryan Briones, Nick Rougeux, Paul Baker and Derek Eder
Vacant and Abandoned Building Finder Vacant and Abandoned Building Finder is a tool for finding vacant and abandoned buildings in Chicago. The data comes from reports made to the City of Chicago's 311 reporting service and is updated regularly.
GitHub repository
Team: Derek Eder
Look at Cook Look at Cook
Look at Cook is an easy-to-understand budget visualization for Cook County IL, which tracks government budgets and expenditures from 1993-2011 broken down by year and department. Developed in collaboration with Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey. Featured in Google's Fusion Tables Example Gallery and redeployed by the City of Whitewater, WI.
GitHub repository
Team: Derek Eder and Nick Rougeux
Metra Schedules Metra Schedules
Created to visualize Metra's proposed 2012 service cuts due to high operating costs and shows how much of an impact the changes would have on riders' schedules. How the final result came about was a mixture of curiosity and fun with a pinch of obsession.
GitHub repository
Team: Nick Rougeux


New Open City Site Lets You Know When Sewage Is Being Dumped Into The Chicago River
by Jon Graef on Chicagoist | May 17th, 2014
Chicago River Sewage (audio)
Derek Eder interviewed by Niala Boodhoo WBEZ Afternoon Shift | May 12th, 2014
The future of Indie Media, Open City Apps, The Hideout Harmonica Hoedown preview (audio)
Outside the Loop RADIO | Mar 21th, 2014
Turning Government Web Content Into APIs
by Mark Headd on Civic Innovations | Jan 16th, 2014
Keeping track of snow plowing
CBC Edmonton | Dec 18th, 2013
The Chicago Snow Plow Map
Google Maps Mania | Dec 15th, 2013
Watch This Fascinating Animation Of Chicago’s Egalitarian Snow Plows
FastCompany | Dec 12th, 2013
Chicago Tech Plan - Increase and improve City data
City of Chicago | Sep 17, 2013
Hackers use their skills to make Chicago more 'user-friendly'
By Craig Wall on Fox News Chicago | Aug 13, 2013
Hackers Called Into Civic Duty
By Ben Kesling on The Wall Street Journal | Aug 12, 2013
Open Gov Hack Night. Pure Entrepreneurship, Meeting Weekly
Jeff Segal | Aug 8, 2013
The Impact of Opening Up Zoning Data (audio)
Outside the Loop RADIO | Jun 13, 2013
The Impact of Opening Up Zoning Data
Sunlight Foundation Blog | Jun 5, 2013
Councilmatic Allows Chicagoans To Watch The Watchmen
Chicagoist | Jun 5, 2013
Keep Tabs on City Council and Your Alderman with Councilmatic
Gapers Block | Jun 4, 2013
Hacking Community Policing with Google
Chicago Digital | May 15, 2013
Chicago civic hackers: Saving the world takes more than open public data
By Julie Davis on Medill Reports - Chicago | Apr 23, 2013
The 'hoodies', the 'suits' and others behind Chicago Government 2.0
By Elliott Ramos on WBEZ | Apr 3, 2013
Derek Eder, Juan Pablo Velez, and OpenGov Hackers on Open Data and Civic-Minded Applications
By Julie Cooper on Chicago Policy Review | Apr 1, 2013
New data set alert: 9 million new rows worth of traffic data released by Chicago
By Elliott Ramos on WBEZ's Day x Datum | Mar 27, 2013
Mapping the Bones of a City
By Emily Badger on Atlantic Cities | Mar 26, 2013
SimCity Reference of the Day: Chicago Zoning Map
By Henry Grabar on Atlantic Cities | Feb 12, 2013
Map of Chicago with SimCity zoning
By awinsalot on Reddit /r/SimCity | Feb 9, 2013
App by OpenGov group simplifies Chicago’s complex zoning — Sim City style
By Elliott Ramos on Day x Datum on WBEZ | Feb 8, 2013
Sim City for the Second City
By Juan-Pablo Velez on Next City | Feb 7, 2013
App lifts veil on government policy for Chicagoans
By Conner Forrest on Medill Reports - Chicago | Jan 24, 2013
Civic hackers: 21st century community organizers?
By Laurel White on Medill Reports - Chicago | Jan 24, 2013
Second City 2000
By Michael Lipkin on Chicago Tonight (WTTW) | Jan 23, 2013
Open Government Hack Night
By Jake Malooley on TimeOut Chicago | Jan 17, 2013
Updated ClearStreets, Alternative to Plow Tracker, Brings New Features and Mobile Friendly Design
By Steven Vance on GridChicago | Dec 20, 2012
ClearStreets: Another Great Project Benefitting from Space on the Smart Chicago EC2 Account
By Daniel X. O'Neil on Smart Chicago Collaborative Blog | Dec 20, 2012
Mayor Emanuel touts expansion of Chicago’s open data effort, and this is why you should care
By Elliott Ramos on WBEZ | Dec 12, 2012
Doctors, Devs, and the Flu
Chicago Digital | Dec 3, 2012
Hacking Chicago
By Derek Eder on Huffington Post | Nov 12, 2012
Center for Neighborhood Technology Urban Sustainability Hackathon
By Daniel X. O'neil on Smart Chicago Collaborative Blog | Oct 28, 2012
IL Science Council, Pawn shop update, (audio)
Outside the Loop RADIO | Oct 27, 2012
Brigade Spotlight: Chicago
By Christopher Whitaker on Code for America Blog | Oct 11, 2012
Open City launches new civic app to map crime in Chicago
By Alex Howard on govfresh | June 26, 2012
Changing The Code: Government Data And Digital Entrepreneurship (video)
Cook County | April 25, 2012
App Helps Figure Odds for Chicago's Elite High School Seats
Education Week | March 23, 2012
Educating Chicago
By Ben Sheldon on Code for America Blog | March 15, 2012
Chicago Public School Tiers: New app to help CPS applicants
Chicago Tonight (WTTW) | March 9, 2012
New Web App Makes It Easier For CPS Students To Get Into The Schools They Want
Chicagoist | March 8, 2012
Shovel Ready
By John Tolva on Ascent Stage | February 21, 2012
Chicago Data Apps Panel Discussion (video)
Chicago Tonight (WTTW) | January 31, 2012
Civic startup Open City makes Chicago more transparent
By Marisa Paulson on Medill Reports | January 26, 2012
San Francisco's Plan: Open Government, Open Data, Open Doors to New Business and Better Services
By Sarah Lai Stirland on Tech President | January 24 2012
What streets have been plowed, and when? Check the Web
By Naomi Nix on The Chicago Tribune | January 21, 2012
New plow tracker-style website hits the web in time for today’s snow storm
By Steven Vance on Grid Chicago | January 20, 2012
Open data in Chicago: progress and direction
By John Tolva on Ascent Stage | January 1, 2012
New Web Project Simplifies City's Open Lobbying Data
By Chuck Sudo on Chicagost | December 7, 2011
Can the Internet help disrupt the power of Chicago Lobbyists through transparency?
By Alex Howard on govfresh | December 7, 2011 maps vacant and abandoned buildings using open government data
By Alex Howard on govfresh | October 12 2011
Beautiful budgets? Look at Cook
By Luke Fretwell on govfresh | September 12 2011
Look at Cook sets a high bar for open government data visualizations
By Alex Howard on O'Reilly Radar | September 7 2011
Mayor Emanuel Announces New Lobbyist Data that Provides Clear Connection From Employers to Lobbyists to City Hall
By Mayor's Press office, City of Chicago | August 30th 2011