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Mayor de Blasio and NYCEDC President Kimball Announce 20 Finalists of NYC BigApps 2014

Nation's Largest Civic Innovation Competition Leverages Strength of New York City Tech Ecosystem to Make the City a Better Place to Live, Work, Learn and Play

Over $100,000 in Prizes to Be Awarded at Finals in September

Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Kyle Kimball today announced the 20 finalists of NYC BigApps 2014, the nation's largest civic innovation competition. BigApps invites New Yorkers to create tech products that use public and private data to address pressing challenges facing the City. BigApps 2014 requested that entrants imagine and create tech products that make New York City a better place to Live, Work, Learn and Play, in part by responding to specific BigIdea Challenges concerning economic mobility, education, health, and the environment.
BigIdea 2014 Challenges were sourced from leading non-profit organizations and City agencies, as well as Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray. The 20 finalists were selected from more than 100 eligible teams who competed in pitch sessions to a team of evaluators, as well as a "people's choice" competition, on July 19. Finalists now have six weeks to refine their products before a final judging session in September, when the BigApps Selection Committee will award more than $100,000 in prizes, sponsored by some of the City's leading tech companies. Prizes will be awarded for the best Live, Work, Learn, and Play product and the best Mobile App, Web App, Data Tool, Connected Device, and Game. Launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation in 2009, the 2014 competition has garnered more interest than in any previous year, attracting over 2,000 registrants and 3,000 event attendees.
"The power of the City's tech ecosystem isn't just in the hundreds of thousands of homegrown jobs it provides for New Yorkers, but in its potential to create real tech-driven solutions that enhance quality of life in the City," said Mayor de Blasio. "The BigApps competition taps directly into that potential, connecting thinkers on the cutting edge of innovation with real needs and issues across the boroughs. I congratulate the finalists and commend the City's tech leaders on their commitment to help make New York City a better place to live, work, learn and play."
"NYC BigApps is a great example of how a City can benefit from the ingenuity of its citizens," said First Lady Chirlane McCray. "New York City has some daunting challenges, which require creative solutions. By turning to the tech community, we leverage some of the brightest minds in our City to find new ways to address concerns that range from pedestrian safety, to children struggling with emotional barriers to living fulfilling lives."
"In its fifth year, BigApps is continuing to spark remarkable innovations throughout the tech ecosystem, and this year is making an especially meaningful impact on the lives of New Yorkers," said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. "NYCEDC is determined to ensure that the contest remains on the forefront of civic innovation in the U.S., creating imaginative and useful tech-driven solutions to City challenges while supporting New York City's robust innovation economy. Congratulations to the finalists—I look forward to seeing their great work, and its enormous potential to better our City, at September's finals."
The 20 finalist apps are:

  • CourseKicker - Online collaboration network where K-12 teachers share best practices and ideas
  • Culture Island - Maps, tours and other information to easily explore Governors Island
  • Dream See Do - Online community for students to learn about career possibilities based on their interests and skills
  • Emrals - Cryptocurrency-based game that rewards citizens for cleaning the City
  • Explore NYC Parks - Allows users to find information on parks closest to them and the amenities and events they offer
  • FineNYC - Allows user to easily manage and pay their parking tickets
  • Heat Seek NYC - Detects heating violations in real time
  • Mind My Business - Tells small business owners what is happening outside and around their business that makes a difference to their bottom line
  • MyCoop - A social platform for residential buildings
  • Nfoshare - A real-time sentiment analytics platform that predicts student dropouts and lowers student loneliness
  • NYC Hired - Allows users to see which job fields are the most promising in New York City based on salaries and growth potential
  • Ohmconnect - Rewards users for reducing their use of electricity
  • PIPs – Rewarding Better - Records and rewards daily life choices that benefit planetary, community and personal health
  • Propel - Simplifies the SNAP enrollment process
  • RedRover - Simplifies the search for things to do in New York City
  • RentHackr - Shows apartments that will become available months ahead of the market
  • Reported - Allows users to submit a taxi complaint quickly and efficiently
  • Responcers App - Securely connects users with emergency personnel and service providers
  • SketchFactor - A crowd-sourced navigation app
  • Social Cyclist - Allows users to record and share bike routes, find the nearest bike share station, and request new bike parking for their community

The BigApps 2014 finalists will be judged based on their potential impact and reach, as well as technical design. This year's Selection Committee is an esteemed mix of leaders in the technology, design and civic sectors, including Pentagram Partner Michael Bierut, Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried, Cornell NYC Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher, New York Public Library Chief Library Officer Mary Lee Kennedy, NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball, Counsel to the New York City Mayor Maya Wiley, and Robin Hood Foundation President Deborah Winshel.
In addition to the NYC BigApps 2014 finalists, NYCEDC also announced the selection of 23 BigIdea Challenge Winners. Winning teams chose to solve one of 33 BigIdea Challenges presented by thought-leading city agencies and civic organizations including the Mayor's Vision Zero Task Force, the Robin Hood Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners and more. The teams, selected by the partners who sponsored each challenge, earned prizes including cash grants, social media promotion, and a private tour of City Hall.
The 23 BigIdea Challenge Winners are:

To see which BigIdea Challenge each has won, visit  
The 2014 competition has attracted the largest and most diverse network of sponsors yet, led by banner sponsors eBay, Facebook, Microsoft, Pentagram, and Razorfish. Contributions from private-sector partners, including donated venues and in-kind services and prizes, have doubled the competition's public engagement efforts. This year's contest was designed and is being managed by HR&A Advisors, Inc., in collaboration with Splash, Super-Vision, and Let's Collaborate.
"It is exciting to see the high level of interest in BigApps this year from all areas of New York City, as well as to see tech companies and community organizations coming together to make the City a better place in the competition's categories of Live, Work, Learn and Play," said Maya Wiley, Counsel to the Mayor. "I applaud the innovative tech solutions and the use of various data sets in this competition in a manner that ultimately seeks to improve the lives of all New Yorkers."
"It was an honor to be a judge at the BigApps Block Party this year," said Councilmember James Vacca, Chair of the City Council's Committee on Technology. "This is a great competition that puts some of New York City's best tech innovations on full display. I can't wait to see how the finalists improve upon their already great apps and look forward to testing them out myself very soon."
"I commend NYCEDC for organizing the Big Apps Competition, and I look forward to continuing to partner with them as we form the necessary bridges between communities like Sunset Park and the fast-growing technology sector," said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca.  "We must also ensure that we are leveraging technological gains to secure the stability of our local communities and develop tools that are inclusive of our immigrant neighborhoods."
"Programs like NYC BigApps are beneficial in helping build a tech community focused on solving the real problems our city faces," said Serkan Piantino, Site Director at Facebook New York. "We're inspired watching these New Yorkers collaborate and create projects, and are motivated by the evolution of the engineering talent right here in New York."
"It was inspiring to see regular folks using our technology combined with open data to create meaningful solutions for others in their communities," said John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology and Civic Innovation at Microsoft.  "The secret to BigApps' success is that it unleashes New York's most powerful force for good – its people.  Microsoft supports BigApps and other initiatives like it because we understand that some of our community's most-needed solutions will be created by regular people leveraging technology in new and innovative ways to change lives for the better.  That's the promise of open data."
"We've been thrilled to see all the ideas for how technology and data can be used to address some of NYC's biggest social challenges," said Lauren Moore, Head of Global Social Innovation at eBay Inc. "We're pleased to be supporting the BigApps competition and the innovators who've participated for a second straight year – this is surely just the start of what will be incredible journey for the finalists as they build their businesses and make a positive impact on the city and its residents."
Since its launch in 2009, NYC BigApps has helped create over 300 apps, and has engaged more than 400,000 New Yorkers. The first NYC BigApps competition made more than 170 official City data sets available and received 85 eligible submissions. Last year's grand prize winner, HealthyOut, is an iPhone app that allows New Yorkers to quickly locate healthy meals at restaurants nearby. With a few simple clicks, users can search for dishes by nutrition or mood preference. HealthyOut has raised $1.2 million in seed funding and will soon be in 500 cities across the United States.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

About HR&A Advisors

HR&A Advisors (HR&A) is an industry-leading real estate and economic development consulting firm. HR&A is the author of the April 2014 report The New York City Tech Ecosystem, which concluded the local tech economy supports nearly 300,000 jobs, and is the administrator, also on behalf of NYCEDC, of Take the H.E.L.M. (Hire + Expand in Lower Manhattan). HR&A has provided strategic advisory services for some of the most complex mixed-use, neighborhood, downtown, and regional development projects across North America and abroad for over thirty years, and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.


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