Our history with open data
Back in 1995, Webitects was one of the first web design and development groups in Chicago. In 2013, we became the first node of the Tim Berners-Lee founded, UK-based, Open Data Institute. What were we doing in those 18 years?
Webitects have worked in open data since 2007, including co-sponsoring the first Chicago City Camp at which Tim O’Reilly launched Code for America. To help keep the OpenGovChicago meetup going through a dry patch in 2010, we hosted, programmed, and organized meetings in our office.
In early 2011, CEO Paul Baker came up with the idea for ChicagoLobbyists.org and put together a team to build the site at the first Google/City of Chicago hackathon. Former Chicago CTO John Tolva frequently used it as an example of designer/developer/government collaboration around open data. Four people in this group, including three from Webitects, went on to form Open City, which organizes Tuesday hack nights at 1871.
In 2013, our employees provided design and technology, and wrote some of the blog posts, for SchoolCuts.org, which was nominated for a Moxie award and is considered by many in the open data movement the most influential open data website of last year in Chicago.
In the summer of that same year, Webitects alum Demond Drummer created Englewood Codes! to train high school students in web technologies, financing it through a Kickstarter campaign.
For more than 10 years we worked with Local Initiative Support Corporation, creating websites to support the New Communities Program in 16 underserved Chicago communities and, in 2009, created a demonstration web portal in Pilsen which helped the City raise about $7 million in Federal stimulus funding, much of it matched by local foundations. This led to the creation of the Smart Communities program, for which we created community websites that encouraged residents in many Chicago communities to tell their own stories and get interested in, and involved with, Web technologies.