Today, New York's pulling back the curtain on a grand experiment: NYC Apps, a public competition to design Web and mobile apps that tap massive amounts of public data that have previously been largely tucked out of view--from restaurant inspection data to traffic updates to city budgets. In all, there will be 170 data sets available at Data Mine, starting at 1pm today. The competition will reward $20,000 in cash prizes, in designations ranging from Best Application to Data Visualization and "Investor's Choice." The grand prize winner, in addition to bagging $5,000, will get dinner with Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself.
As we've reported before here, numerous cities are jumping on the mobile app bandwagon. Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and Portland have all been exploring ways to put city data in the hands of citizens, to improve quality of life. Portland has been particularly cutting edge: There are already a slew of apps that will do everything from tracking exactly where your bus is to figuring out your best mass-transit commute options. San Francisco, meanwhile, has began an effort very similar to New York's, with last month's launch of DataSF.org.
New York, meanwhile, has been busily trying to amp up its innovation bona fides--for example, there was an open call last spring to reinvent taxi services, with plug-in technology solutions. But NYC Apps could become a continual source of innovation: The city plans on turning the competition into an annual event.
This time around, submissions will be due two months from now, on December 8. One week later, public voting will begin. On January 7, the winners will be selected. Watch this space for updates on the ideas that come across the transom.
[Via Flowing Data]