Civic Tech + Grassroots Entrepreneurship

We connect coders, designers, and developers with community leaders and representatives to solve neighborhood problems.

The annual CNT Urban Sustainability Apps Competition sparks the fertile minds of individuals from Chicago’s neighborhoods to create digital solutions to real community problems facing residents every day. Over the course of the event, community activists and app developers will work together to create workable prototypes of apps that make our neighborhoods more sustainable, both environmentally and economically. We welcome participants from all corners of the city, whether you’re a local activist working to improve your neighborhood or a coding whiz looking to make a difference in the community.

The 2016 Urban Sustainability Apps Competition culminated at the Sustain-a-City Celebration on June 16.

Congratulations to our winners:

First Place: Stop Crime App                                                          
Idea Leader: Maurice Gunn 

Stop Crime App facilitates the anonymous reporting of crimes. The app allows for anonymous video, photo, or audio submissions directly from users’ phones to a trusted intermediary organization, providing real-time evidence that is GPS coded and time-stamped, which will make it easier for law enforcement to address crime and minimize the risk to residents. End users will be incentivized by consumer discounts, giveaways, and other value-adds.

Second Place: Chi Safe Path                                                                   
Idea Leader: Steve Luker

Chi Safe Path allows users to submit geo-tagged images of sidewalk problems that hurt accessibility to Chicago’s 311 system. This will help wheelchair users and others with limited mobility access public spaces, buildings, and more. The app allows users to locate accessible directions to sites of their choosing based on the crowdsourced data modeled in a map interface.

Third Place: Neighbors Creating Neighborhoods              
Idea Leader: Sheenita Robinson

Neighbors Creating Neighborhoods works like an advocacy group for tenants to address issues with landlords. Tenants encountering slumlords can use NCN as an easy way to report and document complaints to spur landlord action. Information is shared with community leaders – including the alderman, local organizations, and more – to pressure landlords to fix Chicago’s rental stock. On the flip side, it also publicly recognizes responsive landlords. Anyone who rents can share in the NCN community to help advocate for better housing.

People's Choice: Schedule Scout                                                             
Idea Leader: Corliss King

Schedule Scout allows co-parents to coordinate the care and nurturing of their children, whatever the state of their relationship. Parents who may no longer have a functional relationship but continue to raise children together can use the app to track pickups, payments, connections, calendars, care givers, and more. Details that often go uncommunicated when a relationship goes sour can be tracked in the app, helping parents know where their kids are and what they are doing on a platform that the child can also access.

A big thank you to our judges:

  1. Dr. Janice Jackson | Chief Education Officer, Chicago Board of Education
  2. Shelley Stern Grach | Director – Civic Engagement for the Technology and Civic Engagement (TCE) group, Microsoft Corporation
  3. Brenna Berman | Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Commissioner and CIO
  4. Devin Mathews | Partner at ParkerGale Capital
  5. Scott Bernstein | President + Co-Founder, CNT
  6. Peter Laundy | Peter Laundy Projects; formerly Doblin: A Member of Deloitte LLC
  7. Elizabeth K. Lukehart | Associate Director, Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Northwestern University
  8. Uzma Noormohamed | Program Analyst, Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation



The Apps Competition partners with 12 community-based organizations to spark robust conversations about strategies to improve neighborhoods:

Chatham Business Association
Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation
Bethel New Life, Inc.
Instituto del Progreso Latino
Chicago Commons
University of Chicago Innovation Exchange
Teamwork Englewood
Chicago Local Initiative Support Corporation
Greater Southwest Development Corporation
Residents Association of Greater Englewood
Southwest Organizing Project




Learn more about our 2015 competition

“The CNT Urban Sustainability Apps Competition is an excellent opportunity for residents to connect with the broader tech community in developing innovations that tackle what were once insurmountable challenges.”

Brenna Berman
Commissioner and Chief Information Officer, City of Chicago