Leaders fire up for
Tech Fest '06
March 6, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Will $100 laptop computers
close Chicago's digital divide? Deborah Strauss, executive director
of Chicago's IT Resource Center, doubts it.
not in production yet," says Strauss, who leads the city's
top center for supporting not-for-profit groups and community
technology centers. "They're intended to be mostly Internet
machines. A limited machine might be the right thing in a developing
country. In Chicago's inner city, we need more than hardware.
We need connectivity, training and robust hardware."
While Strauss is unsure
about $100 laptops, she's bullish on the state of technology adoption
among Chicago's not-for-profits and the local community technology
movement, which aims to help disadvantaged households gain technology
skills and access.
The Hispanic Housing
Development Corp., Erie Neighborhood House, Intel Computer Club
Houses and Lawndale Christian Development Corp. are just a few
of the leading groups Strauss cites.
"They're all doing
innovative work," she adds. She's also looking for Gov. Blagojevich
to sign a bill that provides funding for digital divide initiatives.
On Friday Strauss convenes
the leaders of the tech community for her Tech Fest '06 fund-raiser.
The gala takes place at the Hyatt Regency, and honors the most
innovative not-for-profit adopters of technology with two Technology
Finalists include the
Chicago Humanities Festival, the Chicago Zoological Society, I-GO
Car Sharing, Illinois Legal Aid Online and Nor-Wood Life Care
NFP. An all-star panel of local techies vetted the 60 nominees:
Allstate CIO Cathy Brune, Board of Trade CIO Bill Farrow, United
Way CEO Janet Froetscher, Exelon CIO Dan Hill and Accenture CIO
Lavin goes to Washington
Can a blue state bring
home federal dollars to support tech commercialization?
With House Speaker
Dennis Hastert hailing from Illinois, you'd think our state would
be rolling in technology investment dollars. Yet Illinois recently
lost a $15 million Labor Department grant to support technology
point man on economic development, Jack Lavin, director of the
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, was
back in D.C. last week knocking on Hastert's door. Lavin briefed
members of the Illinois delegation on the governor's efforts to
expand the homeland security industry in Illinois. It's a growing
$45 billion global industry.
Plenty of cutting-edge
security research takes place at Argonne, the University of Illinois,
Northwestern and the University of Chicago. Blagojevich wants
that R&D pumped into commercial ventures headquartered here.
is very engaged," says Lavin, who's also briefing the staffs
of Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin and Barack Obama.
What do our
"They are looking
for a road map," Lavin says. "We're out there talking
with them about specific things they can help with." The
Transportation Security Administration is looking for a site for
a center to study transportation safety. Lavin thinks that would
fit Illinois just fine. Joining Lavin at the D.C. briefings were
a host of commercial sector execs including Motorola Vice President
Motorola CEO Ed Zander
held a hometown launch party last Thursday in Millennium Park
for his super thin, candy-bar-shaped, iTunes-playing SLVR cell
phone. At less than half an inch thick, the sleek metal SLVR weds
cutting edge style and state-of-the-art performance. Millennium
Park was the perfect venue to showcase the hot designs Motorola
Motorola Mobile Devices
President Ron Garriques says, "The event recognizes Chicago's
unique place in Motorola history. Although we're a global company,
Chicago is home, and this event celebrates Motorola and Chicago
-- two great brands with a history of innovation and re-invention."
SLVR's other launch
sites include Milan, London and Berlin.
Eric Schmidt signed on to address the Economic
Club of Chicago on April 6. Word is Google's expanding in Chicago.
... IIT professor Bob Carlson hosts NetSecure
'06, a computer and network security conference Wednesday at IIT's
Rice campus in Wheaton.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.