May 1, 2017

Berman will lead organization’s urban technology initiative; UI LABS adds advisers and senior-level staff

UI LABS today announced that Brenna Berman has been named Executive Director of City Digital, the organization’s urban innovation program.

Berman, who previously served as Chief Information Officer for the City of Chicago and Commissioner for the Department of Innovation & Technology, assumed her new role May 1.

City Digital, a unique public-private partnership, uses Chicago as a testbed for new massive data-driven infrastructure improvements that enhance residents’ quality of life and city efficiency. Pilot projects include mapping the city’s underground infrastructure in 3D to prevent construction accidents, improving stormwater management to avoid flooding, and increasing energy efficiency in buildings.

Berman has served in Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Administration since 2011. During her tenure, she helped execute the Mayor’s vision to make Chicago a data-driven city and forged a series of public-private partnerships, including the city’s partnership with UI LABS.

“City Digital has been a valuable partner in demonstrating innovative technology in Chicago to make the city a better place to live, work, and play,” said Mayor Emanuel. “There’s a need for this new type of model that brings together the public and private sectors with community groups, and the city looks forward to its continued involvement as Brenna takes the helm of City Digital.”

Berman was instrumental in the founding of the Midwest IoT (Internet of Things) Council and achieved the vision of urban-scale sensing with the Array of Things—an initiative to collect real-time data about the city’s environment, infrastructure and activity—in partnership with the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.

Prior to joining the Emanuel Administration, Berman worked for a decade at IBM on smart cities projects. She advised government agencies in cities and countries across the world on how to leverage technology and analytics to improve the services they provide.

“Throughout my career, I have worked closely with public, private, and civic organizations to implement technology solutions to positively impact the lives of residents,” said Berman. “I’m excited to continue that work at City Digital as we build on and expand our portfolio of cutting-edge, data-driven technology pilots and ensure that they take into account the needs of communities across Chicago and other cities.”

Under Berman’s leadership, City Digital will grow the number of active pilots and cement its role as the primary technology demonstration partner for the City of Chicago.

“Brenna was instrumental to launching and building City Digital, and we’re thrilled to welcome her as Executive Director,” said Caralynn Nowinski Collens, CEO of UI LABS. “Her background and expertise is invaluable as we pilot innovative new technology in a way that’s accessible to those it impacts most—city residents.”

Berman’s appointment at City Digital comes as the program enters its next stage, having successfully completed two large projects along with four smaller demos and technology validation projects in 2016. Five more projects are in development in the areas of physical infrastructure, water and sanitation, energy, and mobility, with additional projects expected to emerge from forthcoming workshops in 2017. Earlier this year, Mastercard joined founding corporate partners Accenture, ComEd, HBK Engineering, and Microsoft, along with the university, civic, community, and startup partners that make up City Digital.

“As an early City Digital corporate partner within a global network, we welcome Brenna’s leadership to develop and deploy technology in Chicago that can be extended for impact in the cities we work in and those worldwide,” said Anne Pramaggiore, President and CEO of ComEd, and a member of the UI LABS board of directors.

UI LABS Expands Its Team
UI LABS has continued to grow in other areas as well, adding new advisers and senior staff to the organization’s manufacturing arm, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII).

  • Thomas McDermott, Chief Program Officer of UI LABS, has been named Executive Director of DMDII. He was previously Interim Executive Director and will continue to lead the Institute, overseeing program operations, network and partner engagement, and project curation. McDermott previously held roles at McKinsey and the U.S. Navy.
  • Kevin McDunn has joined as UI LABS’ first Chief Technology Officer. McDunn, who previously held roles at Motorola, Google, and Lenovo, will lead the organization’s technology strategy and portfolio management, working closely with the CTO of DMDII.
  • Iqbal Arshad, who previously held senior executive positions at Lenovo, Google, and Motorola Mobility, where he helped develop the original Droid smartphone, has joined UI LABS as an adviser, having previously served as an Executive in Residence.
  • Andre Gudger, formerly the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense, has joined UI LABS as a senior adviser and Entrepreneur in Residence.

About UI LABS, DMDII, and City Digital
UI LABS brings University + Industry together with startups and government to collaborate on problems too big for any one organization to solve on its own. UI LABS is building a portfolio of applied research and commercialization innovation platforms that improve its partners’ competitiveness and financial performance, and transform entire industries. Across its current platforms, UI LABS has more than 300 members from industry, government, community organizations, and academic and research institutions. Learn more at uilabs.org.

In February 2014, UI LABS announced the formation of its first innovation platform, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), in partnership with the Department of Defense, to transform American manufacturing through the digitization of the supply chain. DMDII’s goal is to provide U.S. factories with the tools, software, and expertise they need to build things more efficiently, less expensively, and more quickly, so they can win more business and bring jobs back to the United States.

In 2015, UI LABS announced the formation of its second innovation platform, City Digital, which uses Chicago as a testbed for improvements in the areas of buildings and other physical infrastructure, water and sanitation, energy management, and mobility. Ongoing pilots include research to improve Chicago’s stormwater drainage system, which is frequently overloaded, and mapping Chicago’s underground to prevent construction work from disrupting utility service.