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Army Challenges Public To Build Apps

The Apps for the Army development challenge, as well as a new online marketplace for applications, will be open to non-military personnel.

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The Army next year will open up its Apps for the Army development challenge to the public and launch an online marketplace for apps created through the contest, according to its CIO office.

The second version of the Apps for the Army will expand participation in the challenge to include technology industry or independent developers, according to the office of Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence. The first challenge was open only to Army soldiers and civilian personnel.

The Army also will launch an online marketplace for applications built as a result of the challenges, it said. It posted a screenshot of the homepage of the site--called U.S. Army Marketplace--on its CIO office website.

The Army will be developing prototypes of new business models for the site, as well as methods for addressing intellectual property issues that will arise by inviting the public to develop apps for it, according to Lawrence's office.

The CIO's office will host a number of events to gather ideas for the public challenge and the online marketplace, it said.

The Army created the apps challenge to spur the creation of innovative applications that could be valuable to the military. It also wanted to experiment with community development and new, faster ways of building applications by leveraging agile development and rapid deployment.

More than half of the 53 applications developed for the first challenge were mobile applications, and applications for smartphones are what are typically sold on apps marketplaces, such as the Apple iPhone App Store.

However, the Army hopes developers will create an even broader range of applications once Apps for the Army reaches a broader audience.

"We are looking to establish an online capability that can support applications that are accessed by a variety of devices across diverse mission areas," Gary Blohm, the CIO office lead for Army software transformation, said in a post on the CIO website.

For the first challenge, the Army awarded winners $3,000 for first place, $1,500 for second place, and $1,000 for third place in each of five categories. Mobile applications to monitor psychological health, aid disaster-relief efforts, and develop a personal-training program were among those awarded prizes.

The federal government increasingly has been using challenges and awards to spur technological innovation. It's even launched a finding and participating in government-sponsored innovation challenges.

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