New York City BigApps Winners Show How Civic Tech Is Maturing

Alexander Howard at Huffington Post: “Winners of the latest version of New York City’s BigApps Challenge, announced Thursday, show how tough lessons from the first generation of city apps contests are now helping to creating civic value and community.

New York’s experience will help demonstrate to mayors around the world how to get the most social impact and economic value from government data: Start with the civic problem you want to target, then find the data, partners and community to make the changes….

The evolution brings civic apps contests a long way from the Washington, D.C., local government’s “Apps for Democracy” contest in 2008, which hinted at the promise of opening up data for public benefit, but failed to deliver meaningful long-term social change or services.

Below are this year’s BigApps winners for affordable housing, zero waste, connecting cities, and civic engagement, each of which will receive $25,000, and two judge’s choice winners, each of which will receive $10,000.

….Winning BigApps doesn’t mean that a given idea will work out in the long term. Some past winners of New York’s contest, including Embark,HealthyOutOntodia and Poncho, have endured. Many others have not — as is the case for many startups.

When asked about the longer-term sustainability issues that have plagued apps developed in these kinds of contests, Springer emphasized the endurance of apps like Hopscotch, which helps kids learn how to code, and HeatSeak, which is being installed in buildings across the city. ….(More)