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5/24/2010
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Gov 2.0: Army Competition Spurs App Development

The Apps for Army application development challenge has sparked development of 53 applications in only 75 days, more than half of them for mobile operating systems.

A competition that will award cash prizes to soldiers and Army civilians who create mobile and web applications that could be valuable to the Army has sparked the development of 53 applications in only 75 days, the Army announced Monday ahead of this week's Gov 2.0 Expo.

Apps for the Army is the Army's first application development challenge, and one of the first done by the federal government. Recently, as part of the Open Government Directive, the Obama administration encouraged agencies to involve the public in challenges and contests to develop content and ideas for government and provided guidance for running these challenges.

“Soldiers and Army civilians are creating new mobile and web applications of value for their peers -- tools that enhance warfighting effectiveness and business productivity today," Lt. Gen. Jeff Sorenson, the Army CIO, said in a statement. "And, we're rewarding their innovation with recognition and cash.”

In all, 141 soldiers and Army civilians registered in teams or as individuals to participate in the competition, called Apps for the Army. Winners in each of eight application categories will be awarded from a total cash pool of $30,000.

More than half of the 53 applications submitted -- all of which were submitted via the Army's community source software repository, Forge.mil -- are mobile apps, including 17 Android apps, 16 for the iPhone and 2 for Blackberry. Of the rest, 10 are ASP.NET apps, 7 are written for the LAMP stack, and 1 for the Army's Web portal, Army Knowledge Online.

Among the apps are apps for analyzing threats in an area of operations, inventorying property, providing soldiers with dining options, and collecting data for disaster relief.

Sorenson plans to speak about Apps for the Army on Tuesday at the Gov 2.0 Expo. Now that the submission period has ended, the applications must pass a security certification process, and will then be judged on six criteria like viability, usability and inventiveness. Winners will be announced in early August at an annual Army conference.

While the Army is using Apps for the Army to experiment with community development inside government, others are doing so outside of government. For example, also this week at the Gov 2.0 Expo, open government group the Sunlight Foundation will announce the winners of its latest application development contest.

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