BigApps Competition Challenges Tech Minds to Find Civic Solutions

BigApps Competition Challenges Tech Minds to Find Civic Solutions

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Economic Development Corporation last Friday announced the launch of the NYC BigApps 2015, the city’s annual contest that challenges innovators to create web or mobile apps, devices, platforms and other technology products to address issues affecting New Yorkers.

This year’s competition asks entrants to improve the Big Apple by addressing four challenges identified in de Blasio’s One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City.

Affordable Housing: expand access to affordable housing for all New Yorkers; Zero Waste: equip New Yorkers with new tools to reduce waste at home and work, to help reach the city’s goal of zero waste sent to landfills by 2030. Connected Cities: use tech to improve the way we measure, map and manage the city; and Civic Engagement: develop a 21st Century model for civic engagement.

Each entrant should address one challenge; a winner will be selected from each of the four subjects, according to Ian Fried of NYCEDC.

“BigApps is such an exciting challenge—it’s a collaborative effort between government and the tech community that takes immense amounts of data, combines it with bright talent and dedicated minds, and results in boundless innovation, creativity, and smart new ideas that help solve some of our most pressing problems,” de Blasio said. “I can’t wait to see the sharp and innovative solutions our contestants come up with for these challenges, which address issues identified in OneNYC—our comprehensive plan for a strong, equitable, sustainable, and resilient city. Just like OneNYC, BigApps is an ambitious, forward-looking effort that requires collaboration and innovation to succeed.”

Entrants must submit their products by mid-October; the competition is open to individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations. After all submissions are in, a panel will narrow down the field to 20 finalists, who will be given the opportunity to refine their products for judging at an award ceremony in December.

“New York City is the global capital of innovation, and technology is a core component of that story as we turn the page to the next chapter of our economic history,” said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development. “We are leaders in the ‘hyphen-tech’ economy: fin-tech, bio-tech, fashion-tech, media-tech, and manufacturing-tech, to name a few. The BigApps Competition allows us to add civic-tech to that list, empowering the sharpest minds to solve our city’s toughest challenges with the power of technology, data, and collaboration.”

Five winning teams—one from each issue category, plus a wildcard—will be chosen to win a total cash prize of more than $125,000 and opportunities to collaborate with public and private partners to implement their products. Official competition rules, as well as additional information and updates, can be found at

By Greg Zwiers


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