Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Chicagoans connecting today via OnTheTable networking events

The Chicago Community Trust is hosting its 3rd Annual OnTheTable event tonight, expecting 10- to 15-thousand Chicago area residents to connect and talk about ways to make Chicago an even better place than it already is for most, and to improve how it is for those isolated, and left behind, because of poverty or personal issues.  I'll be participating in a session tonight as part of the weekly ChiHackNight technology networking event. 

I wrote about the OnTheTable event in 2014 and again in 2015.  My goals will be the same now in 2016.  I think technologists and data scientists can take important roles, as volunteers helping individual non-profits become more and more effective, and as volunteers connecting people who don't live in poverty with people who do. 

I've used GIS maps to show places in the Chicago region where poverty is concentrated and where people need more help, and have been dependent on volunteers with tech skills to build the map platforms and create the maps that I show on this blog and the MappingforJustice blog. In addition, I point to mapping platforms hosted by others, which provide usable resources, and demonstrate more innovative and newer uses of technology than what I've had available.

I've depended on volunteers and limited amounts of paid staff to help create network analysis maps to show participation in Tutor/Mentor Conferences, or connections being made on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. 

Even the web sites I use were created by volunteers.  

All of this work could be done better, and could be applied to how others connect people and ideas and resources in on-going efforts to solve complex problems facing Chicago and other cities.

I created this graphic many years ago to illustrate that everyone in every neighborhood who is working to help kids move safely through school and into adult roles and responsibilities requires the same resources on a continuous basis.

Innovating ways to generate these resources and point them to all the places where they are needed, and to measure and report where programs and resources are landing, or where more are needed, is work that technologists, data scientists and communications volunteers and professionals can do well, but they can't do it continuously as volunteers. 

Innovating ways to aggregate the conversations and ideas of thousands of people into on-going idea and action planning is a challenge that technologists and collaboration experts need to solve if the result of thousands of people meeting today will lead to an improvement in the lives of thousands of others living in Chicago and other cities. 

One of the challenges to be discussed has to be how to generate a flow of operating and innovation resources to the intermediaries who need to be involved in this work.

I hope some of these ideas are topics of discussion today and in future days.

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