The City of Ottawa is running a public contest for the development of apps that make use of open data. The contest, Apps4Ottawa, builds on a recent initiative from the Cities of Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver, to make access to data both free and easily accessible. In doing so, they hope both to better engage citizens and improve transparency and accountability.
The Apps4Ottawa contest opened on September 29, 2010 and closes on January 3, 2011 and is open to all residents of Ontario. Applicants can submit either an actual application or just an idea for an application. Once the contest closes, the public is invited to vote on the entries between January 4 and January 28, 2010. This voting session goes towards awarding a People’s Choice Prize worth $2000. A Panel will award the remaining prizes, with a gold ($5000), silver ($2000), and bronze ($1000) prize going to the best apps in each of five different categories: Having Fun in Ottawa, Getting Around, Green Environment/Sustainability, Community Building, and Economic Development. An additional $3000 prize will be awarded to the best overall application as well as another $3000 prize going to the best student application. From amongst the submitted application ideas, three will be randomly drawn and the a $500 prize awarded to the people who submitted the ideas. Winning a prize does not mean that your application then belongs to the city as the contest rules clearly stipulate that you retain full ownership and have full rights to sell your app commercially after the contest closes. However, there is no mention of who “owns” the submitted app ideas. The apps are to be judged on their usefulness, usability, accessibility, and originality.
That’s a whole slew of money waiting to be grabbed up by an entrepreneuring individual. And its great to see Ottawa leading an initiative firmly routed in the 21st century, (even if they couldn’t quite get the contest website running properly, at least at the time of writing this post). I’m looking forward to seeing lots of great app ideas that can make my life in Ottawa a whole lot easier. While encouraging people to make apps for the city in this way is great, I would also have loved to see a mechanism in place to further foster app development. Money ear-marked for more development of the best app or the development of other apps would be great. So would a mechanism for turning some of those app ideas into a reality.
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