expert on smart cities
former cto, city of chicago
Using technology to drive economic growth
John Tolva is the Co-founder of CityFi, a consultancy specialising in sustainable urban change.
Formerly, John was the president of PositivEnergy Practice, an urban systems engineering firm based on data-driven planning for new building design, retrofits, and urban design.
John’s career has focused on developing and applying technology to improve the urban environment. From 2011 to 2013 he was Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, leveraging technology to streamline public services through more efficient data-sharing, digital communications, and next-generation infrastructure. He led the development of ‘The City of Chicago Technology Plan’, an initiative that sets forth a series of public-private strategies to accelerate economic growth, build educated and digitally-engaged communities and workforce, improve government services, and reduce costs through technology.
In 2012, the White House recognized John as a ‘Champion of Change’. Prior to joining the City, he was Director of Citizenship and Technology at IBM Corp, where he worked on the firm’s ‘smarter cities’ initiative, advising cities how to incorporate data analytics into planning and operations. John led the City Forward project, the first global aggregator and visualizer of urban data sets.
Significant projects include the Wuhan, China Erqi District Parametric Model and Master Plan, Astana, Kazakhstan Expo 2017 Master Plan, The Broadband Challenge, Open Data/Civic Innovation, Open 311, and the City of Chicago Technology Action Plan.
John has made a name for himself as one of the world's leading experts on smart cities.
Through his pioneering work as Chicago's CTO and his work in the private sector since, he shows how technology can be used to create sustainable and inclusive urban environments that drive growth and prosperity.