Introducing the Smart State: Illinois Leads the Way

The Digital Transformation to a Smart State

White Paper Summary

There has been a tremendous focus on Smart Cities over the past years and with good reason. Cities are the economic, social, and political hubs of the world; they contribute the most to the world economy and consume most of the world’s resources. People working in U.S. cities contribute up to 90% of the nation’s GDP and constitute 83% of the population. But U.S. cities operate with the support and influence of U.S. states, and states have an important triple role to play in the Smart Cities movement. IDC and the state of Illinois have identified this triple role as:

  • Transforming state government: States have responsibilities, challenges, and inefficiencies similar to those of many large cities; they need to become more efficient and “smarter” themselves.
  • Supporting the development of Smart Cities: States play a major role in supporting the creation of Smart Cities in their jurisdiction through policies and funding.
  • Creating smart and connected regional clusters: States can connect Smart Cities within their jurisdiction to create smart and connected regional clusters of economic development. States that strive to do these things successfully are Smart States. This white paper introduces the concept of the Smart State and discusses how the state of Illinois, under the combined leadership of Governor Bruce Rauner and State CIO Hardik Bhatt, is putting this concept into action.

Smarter State: Illinois Case Study (PDF)

Illinois Smart States Recap (PDF)

The State of Illinois partnered with the Smart Cities Council and UI Labs to host the first-ever smart state event in Chicago on April 25–26, 2016.

Over 200 public, private, academic, and non-profit representatives came together to begin developing a framework to guide Illinois’ adoption of smart technologies statewide.

In January 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner signed an Executive Order to update its technology platforms and merge its IT functions into one cabinet agency, creating a new Department of Innovation and Technology. This move brings 38 department CIOs together, eliminating duplicate efforts and getting them working together on a cohesive state strategy.

Hardik Bhatt, state CIO and now Secretary-designate of the Department of Innovation and Technology, kicked off the event urging participants to help the state identify actionable items based on its three key objectives:

  • Foster economic development and attract innovative companies to Illinois
  • Improve state government operations
  • Help local governments stay competitive

The first day of the event set the stage with opening presentations by Illinois leadership as well as speakers who described the smart cities roadmap building process. Day two focused on implementation planning organized by key topics such as transportation, public safety and energy.

With the goal of building a reusable template for implementing smart cities solutions across the state, the first smart states event was a huge success — bringing together the most innovative private sector leaders with state government officials, department heads and cities large and small.

The two-day event ended with inspired leaders, draft plans and hope for a better tomorrow.

About the Illinois Blockchain Initiative

The Illinois Blockchain Initiative is designed to be a collaborative effort and position Illinois as a leader in blockchain innovation. The State invites all government entities, businesses, organizations and academia interested in participating in this exciting opportunity to contact either: Cab Morris, Deputy Director of Strategy and Operational Performance Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation at or Jennifer O’Rourke, Illinois Blockchain Business Liaison, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity at

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