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NYC BigApps Developer Contest Allows Government Data Sets

Developers compete to create mobile apps that solve specific challenges around jobs, health, education and other topics.

Mobile Government: 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps
Mobile Government: 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The NYC BigApps competition has something new to offer this year. For the first time, participating developers can include data sets from federal and state government, as well as the private sector.

The fourth-annual mobile app development contest, which kicked off this week, features more than 350 new data sets made available to developers by New York City agencies, commissions and business improvement districts. Companies in the private sector that are providing data include, CareerBuilder, eBay, Etsy, Foursquare and Yelp, among others. That brings the total to approximately 1,000 data sets, including those from previous years.

In addition to being able to incorporate federal, state and private sector data and APIs into their apps, developers will have the opportunity to create their own data sets. Apps that generate new data sets relevant to New York City will be considered for BigApps 2013, thus allowing the city to "benefit from technology's crowdsourcing," according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Every day we build on the data available through NYC OpenData, and inspiring data-driven innovation is vital as we continue to implement the city's landmark open data law. NYC BigApps helps to ensure this data impacts communities across New York City," chief information and innovation officer Rahul N. Merchant said in a statement.

[ Public-private partnerships help solve local government challenges. See Boston, IBM Plot Smarter City. ]

Those that qualify -- individual developers, or companies and nonprofits with fewer than 25 employees -- will be presented with the task of solving specific New York City challenges, known as BigIssues. The four focus areas for BigApps 2013 are jobs and workforce mobility, healthy living, lifelong learning, and "cleanweb," which includes energy, environment and resilience issues.

Eight cash prizes totaling $150,000 will be awarded at a ceremony in June. Another $35,000 grand prize will go to one of the top winners from the four BigIssue categories. In addition to the cash prizes, two winners will get demo slots to present at the NY Tech Meetup. Free office space is also among the prizes, as well as a chance to join the Founders' Network, which will provide support to winners wishing to launch companies around their apps.

Bloomberg launched NYC BigApps in 2009. The grand prize that year was awarded to WayFinder NYC, an app that locates the nearest subway, bus or New Jersey PATH transit station.

The top app in last year's competition was NYCFacets, which simplifies access to the OpenData portal for users and developers. The second-place winner, Work+, is an app that suggests places where home office workers can work outside of home.

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