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Mayor Bloomberg Announces Winners Of Nyc Bigapps 3.0, Third Annual Competition To Create Apps Using Official City Data

April 17, 2012

Best Overall Application Awarded to NYCFacets, Which Seeks To Streamline the Process for Accessing and Utilizing the NYC Open Data Portal

Year One Winner MyCityWay Also Announces the Official Launch of Their Brand New Mobile App, MyCityWay NOW

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the winners of NYC BigApps 3.0, the third annual competition for software developers and members of the public to create web or mobile applications using official City data. A total of 11 winning applications were selected from a record 96 eligible applications that were submitted for this year’s contest. The Best Overall Application was awarded to NYCFacets, which seeks to streamline and simplify the process for accessing, understanding, and utilizing the tremendous amount of data available in the City’s NYC Open Data portal. Additional winning applications focused on simplifying trips to New York City, travel on the City’s subway system, and finding the best locations to do work around the City. Originally launched in 2009 as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to increase transparency in government, as well as improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and visitors, BigApps 3.0 has grown each year and this year included more than 230 new datasets from more than 60 City agencies, commissions, and Business Improvement Districts, for a total of nearly 750 available data sets for developers. The Mayor was joined at the ceremony, held at IAC Headquarters, by New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications First Deputy Commissioner James Fowler, Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne, Managing Director of BMW iVentures  Dr. Ulrich Quay, MyCityWay Co-Founder Puneet Mehta, ChallengePost Founder and CEO Brandon Kessler, and representatives from members of the winning NYC BigApps 3.0 developer teams.

“New York City is home to the most creative people, the most talented engineers, and the fastest growing technology community,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Thanks to our Administration’s work on initiatives like BigApps, our technology incubators, and the new Cornell NYCTech campus on Roosevelt Island, we’re making sure New York City has a bright future as a tech capital.”

This year’s BigApps contest has built upon the tremendous success of the previous two competitions, with new categories this year focusing on health, education, mobility, and the environment. Over the course of the previous two competitions, NYC BigApps has already helped create more than 140 new and innovative applications, and this year's contest has added to the impressive roster of cutting edge applications that have been created as a result of the competition. The winning applications for BigApps 3.0 will receive cash prizes totaling $50,000. In addition, several non-monetary prizes were awarded, including two NY Tech Meetup demo slots, two TechStars finalist spots, and membership in the inaugural BigApps Founders Network, which will provide mentorship, networking and business support services to help those selected launch or build their startup businesses. The winner of the Best NYC Mashup, will get a meeting with a representative of the startup whose API the winner used.

“Three years ago, Mayor Bloomberg offered an innovative challenge to New York’s emerging tech community: we’ll make the data available, if you show us your best ideas,” Deputy Mayor Steel said. “The developer community has responded enthusiastically with innovative ideas that leverage City data to create apps that are in high demand from New Yorkers and visitors alike. The Mayor’s challenge has helped catalyze and accelerate the growth of the tech sector and contributed to the significant growth in tech jobs in the last several years.”

“The ideas on display in this competition are yet more proof that the City’s technology sector is becoming one of the most dynamic on the planet,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “As has been the case each year, today’s winners have demonstrated enormous creativity by unlocking data, spurring innovation, and creating new business concepts that will help ensure New York City becomes the undisputed capital of innovation in the 21st century.”

“We’re thrilled to once again partner with NYCEDC and agencies citywide to boost government accessibility and transparency,” said DoITT Commissioner Carole Post. “BigApps is a key part of the city’s open data efforts, including passage of the recent landmark open data policy. We look forward to future iterations of NYCBigApps as we continue to ‘unlock’ data and place more information in the hands of the public.”

"Congratulations to the winners of Big Apps 3.0, and to all of this year’s talented participants," said Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. "Mayor Bloomberg has set the challenge for New Yorkers to innovate and help our City fulfill its digital potential, and NYC BigApps helps to realize that goal. I applaud the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications for their success with the pioneering NYC BigApps competition.” 

Best Overall Application

  • Grand Prize: NYCFacets - seeks to streamline and simplify the process for accessing, understanding, and utilizing the tremendous amount of data available in City’s NYC Open Data site. The app stores metadata across all of NYC Open Data’s datasets and ranks their quality using their statistical "crowdknowing" approach (an algorithm combining semantics, statistics, and feedback from the crowd). This helps provide quicker navigation, more robust discovery tools, and better visualization abilities, while minimizing data balkanization. Team members: Joel Natividad and Sami Baig.

  • Second Prize: Work+ - helps New Yorkers who traditionally work from home find nearby locations to work in their communities. Work+ allows users to search for new places to work by telling Work+ about their ideal setup, including, access to WiFi, coffee, and a quiet working environment. Work+ scours nearby Foursquare and NYC WiFi Hotspot locations and finds locations that meet the user’s specific criteria. Additionally, users can search for known nearby locations with the location name or keyword. Work+ records the time spent working at locations in the user’s work log. Users are able rate locations, and if they like the location, can save it in their favorites to revisit later. Over time, Work+ will be able to determine the locations where the most work takes place and the cities that are working the hardest. Team members: Steven Baughman, Xichuan Wang, Kota Kobayashi, Paul Bland, Robbie Williams.

 Popular Choice Award - Grand Prize

  • Grand Prize: New York Trip Builder - a travel site that helps users personalize a trip in just a few quick steps. Users will be able to easily create a personalized itinerary, which will not only include "Must See" locations, but will also include recommended places by that are specifically personalized for the user. The itinerary can be retrieved at any time and any place simply by just logging into through either a user’s Facebook or Foursquare account. Team members: Mukul Pal, Shefali Sarangal, Charu Malhotra and Vivek Puri.

  • Second Prize: Scene Near Me - provides alerts when users are near legendary New York City movie scenes. Users can receive alerts through the mobile web app or Foursquare whenever they check in near famous New York City film locations, including locations made famous in such films as Annie Hall, Ghostbusters, and Spider-Man. Scene Near Me provides information that can be enjoyed by New Yorkers and visitors alike. Team members: Avinash Dabir, Luis Miranda, Dan Blumberg and Dave Isenberg. 

Investor's Choice Award

  • The Funday Genie - an application designed to help users plan a free day in New York City. The unique scheduling and best route algorithm creates a smart personalized daily itinerary of free things to do across the five boroughs, including events, attractions, restaurants, shopping, and more – all based on the user's preferences. Team members: Joe Foxton, Eran Lobl, Yonit Kariri, and Shirley Cohen-Mintz.

Best Mobility App

  • Embark NYC - an application designed to make taking the subway simple. Embark NYC provides everything required for a user to get around on the New York subway system, and even works underground. In just a few months, Embark NYC has already helped over 100,000 New Yorkers and visitors navigate the subway, and includes tailored step-by-step trip planning accessible without a cell signal. Other features include upcoming arrivals and street maps for each station, smart geolocation and landmark search, push notifications for delays and route changes during a user’s commute. Users can also share trips via email, text message, or Twitter to coordinate plans. Team members: David Hodge, Taylor Malloy and Ian Leighton

Best Green App

  • 596 Acres - a public education project aimed at making communities in Brooklyn aware of the land resources around them. With the goal of a food sovereign New York City in mind, the project is designed to help neighbors form connections to the city-owned vacant lots in their communities through printed maps, signage and an online, interactive, and social-media-connected map. The online map helps users find vacant public land in their neighborhoods and provides tools to support communities organizing to get access to the land. Since the summer of 2011, four groups who have used 596 Acres have ultimately negotiated agreements with City agencies for official access to their targeted lots. Each group now has plans to turn the land into community-driven public space and all will be growing food and providing educational programs. Ten other community groups are currently organizing and hope to have the access to their lots by spring. Team members: Eric Brelsford and Paula Segal.

Best Education App

  • Sage: Pre-K and Elementary Schools Search - a mobile application that enables parents to search by location for nearby NYC public pre-k and elementary schools. Users can search by address or name to find their zoned and nearby schools and look up basic information, as well as state exam results and NYC progress report grades. Tips about the admissions process are also offered. Sage offers a head start for those parents whose children are about to reach school age and are learning the NYC Department of Education admissions process. Team member: Edward Yau

Best Health & Safety App

  • Personal Safety App (Lite) for NYC - a personal emergency web mobile application which helps alert the nearest Police Precinct, provides a custom emergency phone number by SMS or provides a pre-scripted voice message or a custom email by simply pressing one Emergency Button.  To start using this app, users simply customize "Settings" with emergency information they may possibly need.  Once set, users can open the One Red Button Emergency Screen and simply press the Red Emergency Button to initiate the contacts set in the case of an emergency. Team member: John Yung. 

Best NYC Mashup

  • Work+ 

Best Student Award

  • ParkAlly - an application which simplifies the search for available parking spots and eliminates the inconveniences associated with parking in heavily populated areas. ParkAlly also enables users to trade parking spaces. Using the app, an individual can list their parking spot, the time they intend to leave and the price they would require for devoting their time to accommodate another individual’s needs. Then, an individual in search of a spot can find it at the location, time, and price they desire. Those willing to invest a small amount of time to coordinate a trade can be paid for their effort. And for those wishing to find a spot, a small payment can guarantee a quick and efficient transaction that will save time, money and stress. ParkAlly can also prevent a user’s car from being towed by sending a reminder to move a vehicle prior to street cleanings. Team members: Zachariah Reitano and Mason Silber.

City Talent Award

  • Uhpartments - provides building maintenance reports for those users seeking apartments. The mobile-optimized asks users to share locations and gives reports for nearby buildings. Reports are generated by reports to 311 that are routed to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, include issues such as the presence of vermin, leaks, and heating problems. An Uhpartments Report then gives a grade for the building based on the number of complaints HPD has received, and also adds relevant neighborhood information, including aggregate rental listings data from StreetEasy, local businesses recommended by Foursquare, the closest laundromat registered with NYC, and nearby train stations. Team member: Sam Bauch

Since its inception in 2009, NYC BigApps has become a catalyst for launching successful start-up technology companies, including MyCityWay, which won a number of awards including the Investor’s Choice award at the first NYC BigApps. Since 2010, the company has grown to over 70 cities and is nearing 5 million activations. The company itself has received two rounds of investor funding and grown to 15 people in the New York office and additional team members around the world.

Today, along with Mayor Bloomberg, MyCityWay announced the launch of its newest mobile app, MyCityWay NOW, which was unveiled first for users in the New York City metro-area. MyCityWay NOW will feature a live, personalized dashboard, which is updated in real time and provides information including news, weather, traffic, food and deals around the City. The innovative new interface will provide users an experience unique to mobile devices, including the use of color psychology, the first ever hyper-local smart radius search and a question-based venue mapping.

NYC Big Apps encouraged us to convert our idea into reality, and literally put it into the hands of millions of New Yorkers,” said Puneet Mehta, Co-Founder, of MyCityWay.  “Now, we’re helping both residents and tourists navigate, explore and enjoy over 70 cities globally.  Today, we are thrilled to unveil MyCityWay Now, our new metro-licious, comprehensive and always connected mobile dashboard that personalizes urban experiences worldwide.”

NYC BigApps 3.0 is open to individual developers, as well companies and non-profits with fewer than 50 employees. Organizations with 50 or more employees are able to enter in order to receive recognition, but are not eligible for cash prizes. This year, New York City Economic Development Corporation and DoITT worked with 63 City agencies, Commissions, and Business Improvement Districts across the City - including 17 new agencies, Commissions and BIDs - in order to provide the 237 new data sets available on NYC Open Data site. This is in addition to previously available data, bringing the total available for NYC BigApps 3.0 to 748. As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to increase transparency, the data will remain available for download at NYC Open Data at NYC BigApps also furthers New York City’s open data efforts. As part of the Citywide Open Data Legislation, Local Law 11 of 2012, DoITT is currently developing technical standards and guidelines that will help City agencies continue to make more datasets available. Learn more about unlocking NYC data here.

Among the agencies, commissions, and BIDs that provided new data this year were the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Education. In addition to the categories created in previous years, five new categories were created, including: Best Green App, Best Health App, Best Education App, Best Mobility App, and Best NYC Mashup App. The Best NYC Mashup category, which was awarded to Work+, was awarded to the developer who best utilizes NYC data combined with additional data provided by APIs of participating New York City startups and companies. The participating API partner companies included: 8coupons, Aviary,, Boxee, CartoDB,, Etsy, foursquare, GetGlue, Hunch, Magma, Meetup, Minus, the New York Times, NewsBlur, Readability, RecordSetter, StreetEasy, Tumblr, TwitrPix, Vimeo, Yipit, and Zemanta.

The judging panel for NYC BigApps 3.0 included a number of leaders in the fields of technology, venture capital, and City government, including: Dawn Barber Co-founder, New York Tech Meetup; John Borthwick CEO, Betaworks; Alex Diehl, Managing Director of BMW iVentures; Chris Dixon CEO & Co-founder, Hunch; Esther Dyson Chairman, Edventure; Stuart Ellman Co-founder & General Partner, RRE Ventures; Charlie Kim, CEO Next Jump; Lawrence Lenihan Founder, CEO and Managing Director, FirstMark Capital; Carole Post Commissioner, NYC DoITT; Danny Schultz Co-founder & Managing Director, DFJ Gotham Ventures; Naveen Selvadurai Co-founder, Foursquare; Kristy Sundjaja, Senior Director, Head of Industry Transformation Department, Center for Economic Transformation, NYCEDC; Kara Swisher Co-Executive Editor, All Things Digital; David Tisch Managing Director TechStars; and Fred Wilson Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures.

NYC BigApps 3.0 was once again administered in partnership with BMW iVentures, the New York City-based venture capital fund arm of BMW, and ChallengePost, a New York City startup that enables competitive public problem-solving, each of which have been an integral part of the contest. Following the original BigApps awards in 2009, BMW iVentures made an investment in the Investor’s Choice application winner, MyCityWay. Earlier this year, BMW also opened a 7,000 square foot incubator space in Manhattan to further support up-and-coming companies, which now supports three companies and 25 jobs.

“BMW Group has been a part of BigApps for years and now we’re an active member of the venture capital community,” said Managing Director of BMW iVentures Dr. Ulrich Quay. “Our excitement grows as our involvement increases, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with today’s winners as they continue to develop into the innovators of the future.”  

“NYC BigApps continues to be a success because of the strong ecosystem of software developers, NYC residents, judges, sponsors, and the City,” said Brandon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost. “We're heartened to see this competition and its successful results grow each year.”

“For the third year in a row, the City has succeeded in pushing out more public data and attracting many great apps,” said Dawn Barber, Co-founder of NY Tech Meetup. “I look forward to seeing the winners become part of the NYC Tech ecosystem and maybe presenting at NY Tech Meetup in the future.”

In addition to helping create nearly 240 applications to date, NYC BigApps has also engaged nearly 270,000 unique visitors to the website leading to more than 83,000 people voting for popular choice apps. The first NYC BigApps competition in 2009 made more than 170 official City data sets available and received 85 eligible submissions.

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