United States


Lori Lightfoot


2,700,000 (2016)

Lead Innovation Officer

Chris Wheat

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

  • Improve internal government operations

Critical success factors:
  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

Spotlight on innovation in Chicago

In Chicago, there are various platforms available to promote innovation:

  • Tech Plan has helped to build strong partnerships across sectors to drive innovation.
  • Chicago Design System has been developed to embed design methods and increase interactions with users throughout the development of a new product or service.
  • enables to elicit new ideas from outside the City.
  • WindyGrid system in the municipality brings together siloed information to aid in coordination across departments and support data analysis.

Note: The City Innovation Snapshot (PDF version) was produced in 2019 and some aggregate findings have been updated with the latest survey results below.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Chicago does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% of cities surveyed, Chicago approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Policy areas that Chicago is focused on

Digital governance
Policing and law enforcement
Policy areas by number of cities

Innovation skills or roles

Chicago does not have dedicated team for innovation. The City previously managed many of their innovation projects and initiatives through the Innovation Delivery Team, funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies and housed in the Mayor’s Office. Those duties are spread between the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Innovation and Technology, and other entities.

Innovation roles by number of cities

Terms Chicago most associates with innovation

Technological innovation
Behavioral economics

Chicago's most common innovation activities

Rethinking approaches to financing and partnerships
e.g. new public-private-partnerships; collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

Its innovation activities also include taking risks and testing new ideas; and promoting data-driven analytics.

How is innovation funded here?

Like 19% of cities surveyed, Chicago does not have dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Chicago has no reported sources of funding.

Activities being funded

Chicago does not fund any specific activities.

47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

How is innovation measured?

Chicago has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, academia, think tanks to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data

Economic Development


Environment and climate change



Digital governance

Insufficient data


Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement


Waste and sewage

Labour market and skills


Social inclusion and equity

No Response

Public works