innovative cities chicago 2

Chicago was the first city in the country to appoint a Chief Data Officer, and it's a leader when it comes to harnessing open data as a way to improve the lives of city residents.

It's also good at leveraging relationships. City programs like Skills for Chicagoland's Future match the needs of businesses with unemployed workers and offer training programs with direct pathways to employment.

A partnership with the MacArthur Foundation has helped to provide more affordable housing in the city, and its Center for Neighborhood Technology has contributed to innovations on the local level, like car-sharing and energy efficiency in homes.

The city has also turned many of its alleys into small greenways, and redeveloped existing land into public parks, like the Navy Pier and The 606, a nearly three mile-long railroad. More green is on the way for this city -- an infrastructure trust was established to facilitate the building and greening of buildings. (Photo: Steve Geer/Getty) --J.E.

The future of tech: Your local library

First published October 7, 2014: 1:15 AM ET