John Tolva, Chicago’s First CTO, Joining the AI/ML Annual Meeting as Guest Speaker

Tech guru John Tolva will be joining our inaugural The AI and Machine Learning in Architecture, Engineering and Construction Annual Meeting as a guest speaker during the meeting’s pre-event dinner taking place on February 07, 2024 in Atlanta, GA. 

Tolva, who’s known in large part as Chicago’s first ever Chief Technology Officer under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has worked in both private and public sectors and has been deeply ingrained in technology projects dealing with data collection and management for decades. 

Tolva was born and raised in the city of Chicago and began his dive into technology when attended Georgia Tech in 1998 to receive his MS in Information Design and Technology.

After graduating, Tolva spent 13 years working at IBM before moving into his role at the city of Chicago’s first ever Chief Technology Officer. During his tenure with IBM he led what was called the City Forward Project – an open analytics site for data within cities worldwide. The project’s intended use was to allow cities to share data in order to better inform decision making in both social and economic facets. 

As the incoming Mayor, Emanuel saw the potential for technology to play a role in addressing some of the city’s pain points and brought Tolva in as the first CTO to help bring solutions forward.

During his time spent working as Chief Technology Officer of the City of Chicago, Tolva was able to help implement and push forward several marquee initiatives including: 

  • ServiceTracker – This ticketing service allows the citizens of Chicago to better understand how their municipality is serving them by creating a ticketing system wherein someone who has placed a call to 311 could track the progress of their request. This also allowed the city to collect valuable data that can be leveraged to create better efficiencies within its services and also address pain points citizens are experiencing.
  • Data Inclusion Efforts –  Tolva has long been an advocate for data inclusivity and efforts surrounding people’s access to information. This inclusivity starts with access to the internet where even large municipalities like the City of Chicago struggle to deliver high-speed services to many areas – particularly lower income and underserved communities. Tolva identified areas that did not have access to high-speed internet and helped set up the framework for free WiFi Access Points in the city to help include the underserved population.
  • CTA Tracker – Allowing customers access to data using trackers on buses and trains, Tolva helped shape what has become the city’s bus and train tracking system. Knowledge of routes, schedules, delays, etc. allows CTA customers more information to make decisions about how and when to travel around the city enhancing customer service. 

Since his time serving Chicago’s CTO John has moved back into the private sector and includes to be a large part of projects in the world of tech and data including being an advisor to Code for America and his current role as Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Colorado Denver.

We’re excited to welcome John as a speaker at this inaugural event and look forward to gaining his expert insights into where big data and AI is headed in the future and where it fits into society moving forward. 

This event is limited to members who are a part of our AI/ML Research Track. It’s extremely limited in capacity and filling up fast as AI and ML find their way more deeply into the AEC space. 

>>> Click here to get more information about how to join the track and join us next February in Atlanta, GA.