By Dennis Clemente
Last June 20, the NYC BigApps 2013 award ceremony announced the winners for the best apps made in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg handing out the awards himself.
Bloomberg has a good reason to be proud of the city’s burgeoning tech industry. It has become the fastest-growing in the country and with initiatives like BigApps, Bloomberg looks forward to keeping it that way.
Bloomberg also has a good reason to kid around. “I didn’t join because it would be unfair to everyone here.” Over just four years, BigApps has become the global standard for open data software competitions. New York’s developers and designers are displaying their creativity and building their brands, while gaining access to the capital they need to expand and grow.
According to figures released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, $568 million in total venture capital funding has flooded the New York metro area during the second quarter of 2012, with more than $328 million going to 59 Internet-based companies.
Also, 82 startups in the city have received $10 million or more in financing, while 486 in total have received financing since 2007.
In four years, NYC BigApps introduced nearly 300 new apps that reportedly made government more transparent and accountable.
This year, BigApps was focused on critical city challenges grouped together into four areas—Jobs and Economic Mobility, Healthy Living, Lifelong Learning and the Cleanweb: Environment, Energy and Resilience—using public, private or crowdsourced data.
A total of $150,000 in prize money was awarded to seven apps out of the 54 app submitted this year.
Grand Prize winner and Best Healthy Living App was HealthyOut with total prize of $55,000. HealthyOut is an app for the IPhone that lets New Yorkers quickly locate restaurants that match their diet and nutrition preferences.
Winner of the Best Cleanweb: Energy, Environment and Resilience was SolarList, with $20,000 in prize money. SolarList calculates a homeowner’s costs and savings if they want to install solar power in their own homes.
The Best Lifelong Learning App winner was Hopscotch, with $20,000 in prize money. Hopscotch is an app for the iPad that teaches children to code using a simple, friendly interface. Kids can just drag and drop interface elements to create their own games, apps and scripts.
The Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App was bestowed to ChildCareDesk with a $25,000 prize. It allows parents to find quality child care centers with the help of a list of child care centers on a map, with Yelp reviews.
Second-place winner for Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App was handed to Helping Hands with $15,000 in prize money. Helping Hands lets users navigate, enroll, and apply for social benefits. A support network for peers, helpers, and mentors add tips, reviews and inspiring words.
Third-place winner also for the Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App was Hired In NY, who bagged $10,000. The Hired in NY app connects people to thousands of jobs at 2,000 New York- based startups and small companies.
A unique category, Best Wildcard App, went to Poncho, which took home $5,000. Users will have fun using a personalized weather service plus info on train delays and alternate parking. The text and e-mail based app is colorful and personalized. Data comes from public city data provided by NYC Open Data and MTA APIs.
The apps were judged by the following criteria: potential impact on NYC, implementation of idea, quality of idea, and potential commercial viability, with exception of the jobs and economic mobility category.
Bloomberg was in a good mood as he ended his speech by saying, “Don’t blame me if you didn’t win.”
NYC Facets, last year’s winner, was also in attendance demonstrating its open data at pediacities.com as the award ceremony was going on.
The awards ceremony was held at the IAC Headquarters in Chelsea. The building was designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2007.