Among his many promises to change the way Chicago operates, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed to bring an unprecedented level of transparency and technological innovation to city operations. “I understand that sounds crazy coming out of a City Hall office,” John Tolva, the city’s new chief technology officer, said in an interview in his office last week.

“Open, participatory government” is one of the top goals listed in the report Emanuel’s transition team released shortly before he took office, and beneath this broad umbrella he’s pledged to create a searchable city budget, tools for tracking how long it takes to get licenses and permits, and smart phone apps for interacting with the 311 information system.