Project Category: Design

Chicago Department of Aviation FlyChicago

The Problem

In August of 2011, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) sought support related to IT Application Development and Maintenance as well as IT Networking and Infrastructure. The previous consultant had left the project abruptly, requiring the CDA to issue a Task Order Request (TOR) to find a new company to assume support immediately. Many applications and tasks were included in the TOR, but the largest and most pertinent aspect of the TOR concerned, the CDA’s public-facing website for O’Hare and Midway International Airports.

The City of Chicago is one of the few metropolitan cities in the United States that has not one, but two airports: O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Both airports are managed by the City of Chicago through the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). Together O’Hare and Midway generate more than $45 billion in annual economic activity and create 540,000 jobs for the region, making it an integral part of the City of Chicago. On a daily basis thousands of users access Flychicago seeking important information regarding Chicago’s airport system. With such high traffic, Flychicago is one of the main platforms used by the CDA to communicate with its customers regarding real-time flight delays, traffic alerts, parking rates and availability, recent news, and much more. As such, it was imperative Catalyst assume control and support of the website immediately.

Our Solution

Catalyst developers got to work and began acclimating to the CDA’s environment by learning its main business processes, acquainting themselves with CDA staff, assessing all existing applications, and familiarizing themselves with Sharepoint, the Content Management System (CMS) used to manage Flychicago. In just six weeks the team had assumed full control of Flychicago and began making improvements toward a refined user experience with newly developed applications as well as the development of an updated mobile site. In June of 2014, the CDA requested an overhaul of Flychicago’s content. Catalystcombed through each page within Flychicago and updated the content to include accurate, current information, search engine optimization (SEO) for increased public access, and a consistent voice across all pages.

In November of 2014, the Catalyst team updated the existing mobile site. New pages were added to aid the CDA’s communication with mobile passengers, a new design was implemented for improved user experience, and Google Analytics was set to track all mobile traffic. As a result of the new mobile site’s success, as well as a global increase in mobile use, the CDA contracted Catalyst in January of 2016 to develop a fully responsive, fully redesigned Flychicago. Prior to the redesign the CDA maintained two separate sites, desktop and mobile, making content management difficult and cumbersome. By implementing industry standards and developing a fully responsive website, Catalyst improved maintenance efficiency and overall end user experience. Additionally, the team developed new in-airport maps for both airports integrated with Google Maps utilizing Blue Dot technology. The new maps improve passenger wayfinding within the airports and allow the CDA to promote its many concessions directly to passengers, increasing overall revenue. The new site launched in March of 2017. 

Impact & Results

The 2014 content overhaul increased inbound traffic on the desktop version of Flychicago by 50% or 15,000 hits in one year.

The 2014 redevelopment and redesign of Flychicago’s mobile site increased mobile traffic by 633% or 306,144 hits in one year.

On average, Flychicago receives 10,000 visitors a day.

Chicago Department of Finance IVR/OFPC

The Problem

In 2012, the City of Chicago Department of Finance Utility Billing and Customer Service (DoF), in conjunction with the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) issued a TOR for a re-write of their Online Full Payment Certificate Application. The City of Chicago requires a Full Payment Certificate (FPC) for all real estate transactions. An FPC confirms that the seller of a property has paid their utility bill in full, and its issuance formally moves the seller out of the property utility account and moves the buyer in.


The DoF and DoIT sought to modernize their existing, outdated platform while also making utility data available to title companies and city processors through a web-based platform with incorporated analytics. The outdated application components did not account for future compatibility with multiple browsers, mobile devices, and tablets, and it was not developed using the basic core JEE services compatible with future Java Runtime Environment (JRE) versions. The legacy environment had major flaws and an obsolete technology stack.

Our Solution

Catalyst engineers got to work learning the ins and outs of the real estate transaction and utility billing process, partnering with team leaders to develop an application that not only fit the DoF’s needs, but had the scalability to ensure longevity. The team used Java best practices and application development standards to ensure that the application could be successfully deployed to the City’s WebLogic JEE environment and seamlessly integrate with other City systems.

In addition to developing a responsive bootstrap-based application, Catalyst developed three web services in order to interface with the City’s Banner database and eCheckout application. These integrations facilitated a smooth completion of each FPC application. The completed application utilizes approval paths between title companies, DoF processors, and Water Department

Field Reviewers, and includes the ability to attach supporting documentation to each application, which sped up the application process and removed manual process triggers between the departments. The completed OFPC application was the first application to reside in the City of Chicago’s new Exadata environment, an environment set up to streamline the use of big data in order to better serve the City’s constituents.

Impact & Results

The OFPC application increased the amount of applications completed online from 15% to 87%. The average number of days to process an application reduced from approximately 10  to .93

Approximately 550 field reviews are completed each month through a previously nonexistent field review portal