New York is looking for a few Big Apps

Developers will compete to make the most of the city's data

New York City, continuing a government trend, is opening up 350 datasets from its agencies to software developers in its BigApps 2.0 contest. The idea is for contestants to create beneficial apps for city residents, but the winners will benefit too – the contest is offering $20,000 in prize money.

Last year, the inaugural BigApps challenge drew 84 apps and four winners, three of which involved helping people find their way around town, writes Erick Schonfeld in TechCrunch. This year, the city is opening new datasets, including the police statistics, buildings complaints and real-time traffic information, Schonfeld writes.

Submitted apps can be for the Web, PCs, handhelds, Short Message Service or any software platform broadly available to the public, according to the BigApps website.  Registration opened Oct. 12 and will continue through Jan. 12, 2011. App writers will retain intellectual property rights to their work, the site states.

In 2008, Washington, D.C., launched its first Apps for Democracy contest, asking third-party developers to make what they could of some 240 of the city’s data feeds. The contest drew 47 entries, and awarded medals and small cash awards in a variety of categories.

The city paid $50,000 to a company to run the contest, but estimated that it would cost $2.6 million to develop those apps by hiring a contractor.

The idea quickly caught on with other cities. And Vivek Kundra, who then was Washington’s CTO, brought the idea to the national stage after being named federal CIO. He established, which opened federal datasets to the public. Shortly afterward, the Sunlight Foundation started its Apps for America contest.


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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