The New York City Economic Development Corporation recently launched an apps contest for the rest of us. Unlike the NYC BigApps 1.0 and 2.0 contests the NYC BigApps Ideas Challenge is aimed at discovering problems that need solving. Participants can compete by going to a website powered by ChallengePost and filling in the blank for "I want an NYC app that..." The contest is open to both developers and non-developers and no special skills are required. So if you drive a cab, work as a podiatrist, or eke by as freelance tech writer this is your chance to contribute.
The BigApps 1.0 and 2.0 contests let developers use their imaginations to see what they could create for the citizens of the Big Apple. They certainly created some interesting and useful apps, however, New York city is a large and diverse place. It makes sense that city leaders would also ask common people what their problems are. You don't have to have a solution to the problem in this contest and that is what makes it different and more engaging to a broader audience. Maybe this approach can help illuminate issues that might go otherwise unnoticed by developers or government officials in other types of contests.
"Since Launching this morning, we've recieved over 100 submissions, ranging from techie developer tool ideas to app ideas that help you get the most out of NYC." wrote Samantha Tse in the ChallengePost Blog. A quick glance at the contest webpage reveals some great ideas:
- I want a NYC app that creates a social network within apartment buildings, allowing for better communication and easier transitions for new tenants
- I want a NYC app that shows realtime (actual & estim.) population density so I can go places at the optimal times... like Google traffic but for human bodies
- I want a NYC app that aggregates bike accident data to make/help petition for safer bike routes
If one visits or lives in New York these ideas make great sense. When buildings have thousands of residents, moving between them can be analogous to moving from one small town to another. If all you can see when you get there are closed doors and hallways wouldn't you want an app to get to know people? If you have ever traveled through New York City during different parts of the day you see immediately why a real-time or predictive population app would be invaluable. One might choose to get off at a different subway station in a less busy area and thus save 20 minutes standing in line for lunch.
A slightly deeper investigation shows that some of the suggested problems have been covered by past BigApps contest entries. Will T. from Brooklyn, NY suggested an app that would illustrate parking regulations and Street cleaning schedules. Ben Sann, the founder of BestParking (one of the BigApps 2.0 winners) left a comment explaining how his app worked and what it could do to solve the problem. This is a perfect example of how different communities can exchange information and form connections though this type of event.
Ideas can be submitted until July 28, 2011. Contestants can win $100 if their idea is voted into the top 25 and additional $250 if they are chosen as one of the top 10 by a panel of judges. Head over to the contest website for more details and to submit your idea.