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Smart City: IoT in Chicago

  • National Association of Realtors

    430 North Michigan Avenue #2, Chicago, IL (map)

    41.890362 -87.624802

  • Join us January 25th for an in-depth look at some of the technology trends inside creating a smarter city: energy efficiency, environmental quality, traffic, safety, increasing return on investment/home value. IoT is one of the fastest growing technology sectors here in Chicago, connecting multiple facets of devices and technology in both the home and business markets. With publicly known products like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Nest Thermostat people are slowly being introduced to the idea of having various devices around them connected to the internet.

    We'll start the evening with demos from various companies and non-profits in the Chicago area, showcasing research and consumer products. There will then be a moderated panel discussion with experts from all aspects of the Smart City movement in Chicago.

    Keynote Speaker

    Brenna Berman - Chief Information Officer at City of Chicago - Department of Innovation & Technology

    Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Commissioner and CIO, Brenna Berman joined the Emanuel administration in 2011 as Deputy Budget Director focused on enterprise initiatives and performance management.  After a year in that role, Brenna transitioned to DoIT as 1st Deputy Commissioner to focus on enterprise IT consolidation and operational excellence.

    Over the past year at DoIT, Berman has focused transforming the team at DoIT to align with the Mayor’s commitment to an open and data-driven government, building Chicago’s open data program into one of the largest in the country, implemented the ground-breaking “WindyGrid” spatial analytics platform into every level of government, integrating advanced analytics and real-time data-driven decision making across the city, and setting a new standard for government IT.

    Berman played a critical role in transforming the team at DoIT to provide the skills and expertise to implement the Mayor’s commitment to leveraging data and technology to create a more efficient, effective and innovative City government. This has meant adding new skills to the team to increase the focus on software engineering and analytics, improving the department’s commercial partnerships to drive savings for the City and identifying ground-breaking civic partnerships, including hosting regular meetings with local female tech startup owners.


    Chad Curry 

    As Managing Director for NAR's Center for REALTOR® Technology, Chad Curry investigates emerging technologies, educates NAR members & the public through presentations, webinars, blogs and podcasts, and manages the development of products for use by members. He’s presented to REALTORS® on the national, state and local levels. Chad is also a Board Member for the Real Estate Standards Organization, where he works to streamline real estate transaction technology.

    Currently, Chad's work is focused on research and development of smart home devices, iBeacons and wearables as well as renewable energies. Specifically, he is investigating how these trends will impact the real estate industry and benefit members. They've set up CRTLabs, focused on testing and developing devices for the home to help improve quality of life.  He is a member of the Internet of Things Council and is part of the Research Workgroup. Chad currently lives in Chicago with his family where he enjoys music, art, soccer and travel.


    Christopher Coté is a software engineer with a passion for hardware.

    He is the Lead Lab Engineer for the National Association of Realtors' R&D Lab, CRT Labs (

    Prior to joining NAR Chris ran his own software development and consulting company.

    He was a lead engineer for the Obama 2012 campaign and has helped found and build several startups around the Chicago area.

    Christopher has always found himself driven to create sustainable and efficient systems, whether that's for massive political campaigns, growing food or controlling and monitoring the built world.

    This experience has given him a unique insight into how technology and the built world coexist in society today and will continue to evolve into the future.

    Jon Thacker, Ph.D., has been working with embedded networking devices for the past 10 years. Recently he joined SparkMeter as the Director or Research and Development, where he is working on the next generation of communication protocols and hardware for their low-cost metering solution. SparkMeter provides a fully managed electrical metering solution for underserved markets with the goal of providing sufficient, robust, and affordable energy for all. Jon is a contributor to RIOT OS, an open source operating system for IoT. Outside of technology, he spends his time racing and instructing on sailboats.

    Douglas Pancoast A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design and Cranbrook Academy of Art, architect Douglas Pancoast has worked for firms including Richard Meier and Partners, 1100 Architect, BlackBox Studio at SOM, and His work has been shown in the Chicago-based exhibitions Art in the Urban Garden, Mystique: Space, Technology, and Craft and Speculative Chicago; and in Scale at the Architectural League of New York and the National Building Museum, Washington, DC. His projects have been featured in Architectural Record, Architecture, A.P.+, and The Architectural Review, and in the book Young Architects: Scale. Pancoast has lectured widely on his own work and on the topic of trans-disciplinary education, and has served as a guest critic at such institutions as Columbia University , Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Parsons School of Design.

    Current interests include examining how large, public data sets (economic, environmental, social, cultural, civic) are a context for creative practice. Pancoast is a co-investigator for the NSF grant supported Urban Sciences Research Coordination Network, an award meant to build inter-institutional collaborative research capacity around the subject of "big data" for social benefit. Since 2012 Pancoast has been a frequent co-investigator in the newly established Urban Center for Computation and Data (, specifically providing architectural knowledge, and visualization expertise for a network of associated projects groups in Chicago including Open City ( Recent projects include the Array of Things ( – a city scaled collection of environmental sensors deployed in Chicago providing data on city conditions for the Chicago Open Data Portal.

    Derek Eder  is a civic technologist and one of the leaders of the open government community in Chicago. He is founder and partner at DataMade, a company that tells stories and builds tools with data, co-founder of Open City, a collective that makes civic apps to to improve transparency and understanding of our government, and organizer for the Chi Hack Night, Chicago’s premier weekly event for building civic technology with open data.

    Vivek Mehra is the CEO and Founder of ParqEx. He's a visionary with over 18 years of technical leadership experience as a developer, architect, CTO, Director and Founder. Mehra has earned Masters degrees in Information Systems and Management from University of Illinois-Chicago and University of South Carolina, respectively. 

    He is particularly strong at introducing proven tools, methodologies and processes that have slashed development times, improved quality and increased internal/external customer satisfaction. 

    Mehra's deep technical expertise and and hands-on experience architecting and building technology solutions has lead him to two successful startup exits and high-level positions at Fortune 500 Companies. 

    Fortune 500 Companies: Navistar, Hewitt Associates and Northern Trust

    Startups: Endoxy, SkillIT, MonAlarm and Flozio 

    Demo Companies

    CRT Labs 

    The mission of the National Association of REALTORS’® Center for REALTOR® Technology is to track emerging technologies that will affect real estate, educate its members, advocate for the proper use of technology, and innovate when there is a gap between what is needed and what is available. In 2015, CRT established a lab to investigate smart home/internet of things devices, renewable energy, urban agriculture and building materials, as well as any other emerging technologies as they become evident. CRT is working with NGOs, vendors, national laboratories, universities and government agencies to help promote NAR as an agent for technology research and innovation.


    DataMade was born out of Chicago's Open Government community. In 2011, Derek and Forest started working on civic technology as volunteers of Open City. At nights and over weekends, they've helped make civic apps like Chicago LobbyistsClear Streets, and Second City Zoning.

    In 2012, DataMade was founded to deepen and sustain the impact of civic technology.

    Members of DataMade continue to prototype civic apps under the Open City banner to allow collaboration on open source projects without money or business getting in the way. When asked to re-deploy one of these apps (like Look at Cook), the work is done by DataMade and kept as open source.

    DataMade also acts as the fiscal agent for the Chi Hack Night in addition to being a recurring sponsor.


    SparkMeter offers comprehensive low-cost metering solutions for everything from rural micro-grids to existing urban central grid utilities. Our products help make access to electricity possible in hard-to-reach places and underserved markets.


    ParqEx – The Private Parking Marketplace – connects people with underutilized parking spots to people looking for parking in busy neighborhoods. Using ParqEx, parking owners are able to rent their parking spot(s) on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis and earn some extra cash. If you have a parking spot anywhere, you can list it on ParqEx in minutes. It's like Airbnb for parking!

    With many private parking spots being located behind garage doors or gates. ParqEx has also developed an innovative IoT solution called Access+. The Access+ system allows renters and approved users to open any garage door or gate with a click of a button on their smart phones. Implementing Access+ increases rental opportunities, improves transparency into garage usage, and provides great convenience for both owners and renters.

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