Today the District of ColumbiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) announced the launch of Apps for Democracy. The program, which was developed with the help of iStrategyLabs, is a competition for developers to create interesting ways of visualizing DC’s public data. The incentive for developers? Cash prizes of course!
How much exactly? Well there will be over $20,000 in prizes with the largest prize being $2,000 for any individual or group. Developers will also receive public recognition for creating winning applications that will be used by the government, citizens, visitors, and businesses in the District of Columbia. It sounds like a pretty great program and there is some interesting data that is available for developers.
This competition reminds me of existing data mashups with maps on the web that record local criminal activity as well as housing prices. I can also envision a useful iPhone application that leverages GPS to provide you with locally relevant data. The competition is open to all developers and has the intent of fostering innovation in the DC technology community.
Will this transform the community overnight? Definitely not, but this is most definitely a step in the right direction. It is clear that the Office of the Chief Technology Officer is determined to integrate the startup community within the government. I had the opportunity to speak with Vivek Kundra, CTO of D.C. a few weeks ago and he emphasized the organization’s commitment to supporting a thriving start-up community.
If you are a developer or work with a group of developers, I highly suggest checking out the Apps for Democracy contest. Also, please let us know your thoughts on the program!