With Change in Chief Information Officer, Illinois Reflects On Smart Growth

The Chief Information Officer for the State of Illinois, Hardik Bhatt, has resigned in order to take a position with Amazon, where he will continue to be involved with Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city projects. Bhatt was instrumental in modernization efforts and IT consolidation in Illinois and founded several programs, such as the Smart State and Blockchain initiatives. The Smart State initiative is a statewide project designed to improve digital infrastructure and the quality of life for residents. This far-reaching program seeks to establish a Smart Illinois brand by focusing on a number of smart-city solutions such as applying sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) to buildings and streetlights, enhancing mobile citizen engagement and delivery of government services, developing a procurement platform to obtain better pricing, creating a more business-friendly state supported by a digital portal, applying smart cities standards, and reviewing policy and regulations to remove barriers to implementing smart technologies. The Blockchain Initiative is designed to engage the community, support the market, and to collaborate to explore innovations presented by Blockchain technology.

“Hardik’s work with the State of Illinois has been transformative,” said Stuart Cowan, chief scientist of the Smart Cities Council. “It’s brought Illinois from being in the bottom fifth of states according to IT capability to the top third — and that’s happened in a two year period. And it’s helped capture the imagination of a lot of other states.”

Chief Information Security Officer, Kirk Lonbom, will act as interim CIO until a permanent replacement is found. “We’ve spent two and a half years developing an incredible strategy with our team in response to the governor’s vision for a true digital transformation and a true digital economy,” Lonbom said. “We had great strategy in place, we’ve been making those steps forward toward that and have made great strides. We’re going to continue with the vision, we’re going to continue to build these forward-leaning technology initiatives and really they’re all about business transformation as well as working on our foundational issues and ensuring a complete transformation of the current IT environments.”