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How the Chicago DOT keeps Chicagoans connected with Google Cloud

March 10, 2020
Todd Schroeder

Director of Global Public Sector Digital Strategy, Google Cloud

Google Cloud, at its core, is about helping organizations drive efficiencies that enable innovation and broad digital transformation. Such is the case with the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), a longtime customer, partnered with SADA to develop dotMaps application. The application uses Google Cloud in coordination with Google Maps to ingest multiple data sources to power CDOT’s new ChiStreetWork website. This public website helps inform Chicagoans on everything from when and where special events are taking place, to how road repairs and construction projects are impacting traffic patterns for their daily commutes.

Chicago has become one of the most densely populated areas in the United States, with almost a quarter of Illinois residents living within its city limits. The DOT’s job is to manage traffic in and around the construction on thousands of miles of alleys and street surfaces. Adding to the street congestion are annual festivals like Lollapalooza and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Chicago’s famous block parties, and many more events.

The CDOT needed a solution that would put all of its transportation data at the fingertips of Chicago’s residents, while at the same time increasing the accountability and transparency of the city’s public-facing work across all of its departments. The solution is ChiStreetWork, a future-looking forecast website that predicts traffic patterns and disruptions in the same way a customized weather model predicts hailstorms and big temperature shifts.

ChiStreetWorks integrates upcoming road and infrastructure projects, along with other street closure information, so citizens can find event dates and locations and pinpoint CDOT permit details—including lane closures and work hours. The site also provides bus routes, potential parking impacts, modified bike routes, viaduct heights, and red light camera locations.

Using a familiar Google Maps interface, residents and visitors can subscribe to a targeted area, like their neighborhoods or workplaces, and define what public works and event information they’d like to receive (and at what frequency). This gives residents a new level of transparency on street work happening in their neighborhoods.

With ChiStreetWork, the CDOT has been able to cut down on calls made to the office, freeing up resources and, at the same time, providing much greater transparency to its citizens.

“I would listen to the calls coming into the office, and citizens just weren’t aware of what was going on. Someone would have a block party and then water management would arrive to dig up the street,” said CDOT Deputy Commissioner Michael Simon. “ChiSreetWork is more user-friendly and coordinates all events and work projects. The new subscription feature makes it easy for residents to get the information they need, and it provides an unprecedented level of visibility.”

The website was revamped in collaboration with Google Cloud, Collins Engineers, Inc., and longtime partner SADA. As one of Google Cloud’s longest-standing partners, SADA's expertise is built on years of experience in building customer solutions that are tailored for their unique needs. 

“We evaluated different companies, and what we liked best was the flexibility, scalability, and speed of Google Cloud,” said Simon. “Working for a city can be very bureaucratic sometimes. Working with Google Cloud, however, allowed us to implement new tools and processes quickly, helping us to get citizens the right information in real-time. With Google Cloud, we’ve been able to move forward with an eye on future technologies, including AI.”

In working with agencies like the CDOT, Google Cloud is thrilled to help public sector organizations transform their departments to better serve citizens. We look forward to continuing to partner with state and local customers to identify ways our technologies can positively impact communities and give residents access to critical information. Learn more about our work with the public sector here.

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