Mayor Bloomberg Announces Winners of Inaugural NYC BigApps Competition
Grand Prize Winner Allows Pedestrians to Find the Nearest and Best Directions to New York City Subway and PATH Stations
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the winners of the inaugural NYC BigApps Competition at a ceremony held at the IAC headquarters. Ten winning applications were selected from a pool of more than 80 submissions that include a resource for better navigating the City and its cultural resources, a guide to New York City schools, a live-feed commentary on New York City taxis, and an application that helps users locate books at Public Libraries. The winning teams will receive cash prizes totaling $20,000, and Mayor Bloomberg will congratulate them at a dinner. All awards were selected by a panel of media and technology entrepreneurs with the exception of the “Popular Choice Award,” which was decided by an online public vote from people around the world. The City will hold the next competition, NYC BigApps 2.0, at the end of the year. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Council Member Daniel Garodnick, Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Carole Post, IAC Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Jason Stewart, Brandon Kessler, Founder and CEO of ChallengePost, which administered the competition on behalf of the City and members of the winning developer teams.
“We opened up the 170 datasets of City information to unleash the creativity and ingenuity of New Yorkers, and we were not disappointed,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The apps submitted offer a range of unique capabilities, many of which use the data in ways we hadn’t considered. We want New York City to stay ahead of the innovation and technology curve, and we’ll continue to capitalize on our greatest asset – New Yorkers – to make sure we do. Thank you to all of those who submitted apps, and congratulations to the winners.”
Upon launching the competition in October 2009, the City made available more than 170 datasets from 30 agencies and commissions that included traffic updates, WiFi hotspots, taxi medallion and driver information, and restaurant inspection data. Since its launch, more than 39,000 unique visitors have gone to the competition’s web site.
Start-up and venture capital companies engaged with the City in efforts to grow the sector expressed significant interest in utilizing City data to create new digital applications. Through the NYC BigApps Competition, the City increases opportunities for job growth in the sector and facilitates the creation of applications which, in turn, increase government transparency and accessibility for residents and visitors alike.
The winning applications are:
Best Overall Application:
- Grand Prize: WayFinder NYC – an application that allows users to find the nearest and best directions to New York City subway and New Jersey PATH stations on Android phones. It was also selected as the Grand Prize winner for the “Data Visualization Award.” Team members: Victor Sima and Steven Lao.
- Second Prize: Taxihack – an application that allows users to post live comments on New York City taxis and their drivers via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@taxihack). Users send messages to the system, which are then posted on the appropriate pages for public viewing. Team members: Randy Meech and Sam Cole.
- Third Prize: Big Apple Ed – an education application that provide residents with an easy-to-use guide to schools in the City, including school searches, top ten lists, analyses, comparison charts, and detailed school profiles. Team members: Adda Birnir, Jonathan Soma, and Kate Reyes.
Five Honorable Mentions were also awarded for Best Overall Application including:
- Actuatr, UpNext 3D NYC, Trees Near You, PushPin Web, and NYC Way.
Investor’s Choice Award for the application with the highest potential for commercialization:
- NYC Way – an iPhone application that bundles more than 30 New York City resources and provides information sorted by the user’s current location. NYC Way was also selected as the “Popular Choice Award” Grand Prize winner. Team members: Puneet Mehta, Archana Patchirajan, Sonpreet Bhatia, Arun Arunachalam, Vivek Mehta, and Shariq Siddiqui.
Data Visualization Award for the most visually appealing and user-friendly application:
- WayFinder NYC
Popular Choice Awards:
- Grand Prize: NYC Way
- Second Prize: Bookzee – a library book search application that allows users to enter a book title or author to find the nearest library currently holding it. Team members: Mike Cavaliere, Veronica De la Pena, Timothy Murry, Michael Boski, Will Schenk, and Fernando Guillen.
City Talent Award for employees of the City, the New York City Economic Development Corporation or their families:
- New York Parks and Recreation Online (NYCPRO) – an application that allows users to search for parks and recreational opportunities in New York City by neighborhood and by certain recreational activities. It can also be used to locate bike shops, restaurants, hospitals, landmarks, and multi-use trails. Team members: Josh Pierro, Robin Dropkin, and Robert Murdock.
“Data wants to be free, and when we put it in the hands of innovators, creative thinkers and everyday New Yorkers, we get valuable tools like these winning apps,” said Council Member Garodnick, Chair of the City Council’s Technology Committee. “Technology is a path to making government open and accessible, and these applications show how we can make City services available at our fingertips.”
“I applaud Mayor Bloomberg's efforts to boost government transparency and the City's technology sector,” said Council Member Brewer. “The Big Apps Competition successfully facilitates easier access to City information while simultaneously promoting the development of new digital products. In New York City's pioneering efforts to transform the way government agencies operate and interact with the public, the BigApps Competition is an exciting way to cultivate tech entrepreneurs, developers, and the general public alike to leverage useful applications in daily use.”
“The wide array of applications submitted to the BigApps competition demonstrates the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of New York's tech sector,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “The applications will generate millions of dollars in economic impact – a figure that will only increase as more entrepreneurs become aware of the opportunities available here. Through initiatives like BigApps, we are confident that New York City will continue to cement its position as one of the world's leading centers of innovation.”
“Today’s winners demonstrate just how innovative the public can be in providing a new take on City information, and show what’s possible when government data is opened to the people it serves,” said DoITT Commissioner Post. “As an NYC BigApps judge, I’m appreciative of the creativity and technical expertise required to develop many of the submissions, and encouraged by the potential of these applications – and those to be developed in future Competitions – to further benefit New Yorkers.”
“We’re excited by the efforts that the City is making to support new media entrepreneurs,” said Jason Stewart, Chief Administrative Officer of IAC. “New York City is full of talented workers and young tech-savvy entrepreneurs and the NYC BigApps competition is one of many ways to help ensure that New York City remains at the center of the evolution that is taking place in our industry.”
“I was impressed by the number, variety, and quality of apps developed and submitted to the NYC BigApps contest,” said Union Square Ventures Partner and NYC BigApps Judge Fred Wilson. “When you open up data and let developers go at it, you are going to get some serious creativity. And we sure did. I won't ride in a taxi, look for a parking spot, find a playground, or do many other typical urban experiences in quite the same way after adding these apps to my mobile phone.”
In parallel with launch of the NYC BigApps Competition in October 2009, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications established the NYC DataMine at www.nyc.gov/data to house supporting datasets and information for the competition. The NYC DataMine is a revolutionary approach to storing and representing data from dozens of City agencies in a consolidated, cohesive and customer-friendly manner.
Winners were selected by a panel of technology entrepreneurs and information technology-focused venture capital investors including: NY Tech Meetup Co-founder Dawn Barber; Betaworks CEO John Borthwick; Mahalo.com Co-founder Jason Calacanis; EDVenture Chairman Esther Dyson; CEO of FirstMark Capital, Lawrence Lenihan; Gilt Groupe Chairman and Founder Kevin Ryan; DFJ Gotham Ventures Co-founder and Managing Director Danny Schultz; Union Square Ventures Partner Fred Wilson; and DoITT Commissioner Carole Post. Applications were judged on criteria including benefit to residents, visitors, and City government; originality; visual appeal; effectiveness in increasing data accessibility and government transparency; and potential commercial value.
The prize money will be awarded as follows:
- Best Overall Application: Grand Prize: $5,000; Second Prize: $2,500; Third Prize: $1,000; Honorable Mention (5 awards): $500
- Investor's Choice Award: $2,500
- Data Visualization Award: $2,500
- Popular Choice Award: Grand Prize: $2,500; Second Prize: $1,500
- City Talent Award: $0
The City plans to add additional data sets and new formats to the NYC Data Mine, available through nyc.gov on a rolling basis. Eligible submissions will remain available on the BigApps website, NYCBigApps.com for one year, free-of-charge. That site can also be found through nyc.gov. Contestants may develop premium or enhanced versions of the applications for commercial sale.
The NYC BigApps Competition was administered by ChallengePost, a New York City-based start-up company that provides an online network for organizations and individuals to create and offer competitions.
“We're thrilled to have powered NYC BigApps and to have helped deliver a fantastic return on investment for the City,” said ChallengePost Founder Brandon Kessler. “Several million dollars in software apps were created in exchange for $20,000 in prize money. Everyone won, including apps developers, City government, residents and visitors to New York City.”