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Mayor de Blasio and NYCEDC President Kimball Announce Winners of NYC BigApps 2014

September 16, 2014

Competition leverages strength of New York City tech ecosystem to make the City a better place to live, work, learn and play

NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Kyle Kimball today announced the winners of NYC BigApps 2014, the nation’s largest municipally-supported civic innovation competition. BigApps invites New Yorkers to create tech products that use public and private data to address pressing challenges facing the City. BigApps 2014 requested entrants to imagine and create tech products that make New York City a better place to live, work, learn and play, in part by responding to specific BigIdea challenges concerning economic mobility, education, health, and the environment.

This year’s winners were chosen from 20 finalists announced last month, all of whom used the last six weeks to refine their products before the final judging today. Cash prizes of $20,000 were awarded for the best live, work, learn, and play products, and $5,000 was awarded to the best mobile app, web app, data tool, connected device, and game. Launched by the NYCEDC in 2009, the 2014 competition has garnered more interest than in any previous year, attracting over 2,000 registrants, 3,000 event attendees and over 100 private-sector and non-profit partners. Since its launch, NYC BigApps has helped create over 300 apps, and has engaged more than 400,000 New Yorkers.

“Technology has the power to transform our world, and with this challenge, we’re empowering the sharpest minds in tech, design and business to help solve some of the city’s toughest civic challenges,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Tonight, I’m proud to announce the winners of NYC BigApps 2014—creative thinkers who will help make New York City a better place to live, work, learn and play. On behalf of the entire city, I want to thank everyone who submitted their ideas to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and congratulate our winners.”

“Tech is a key component of our City’s future for both legacy and new industries, and provides increasingly creative solutions to a broad set of issues New Yorkers contend with, as the 2014 BigApps winners demonstrate,” said Kyle Kimball, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “We are immensely proud of the hundreds of competition participants, who used their ingenuity and expertise to help improve quality of life in NYC. As the tech ecosystem continues to grow, it will help increase opportunity and fight inequality—continuing to make the City an ever better place to live, work, learn and play for all New Yorkers.”

The winners of the 2014 competition were:

Live and Best Connected Device Categories
Heat Seek NYC delivers objective heating data that will empower the justice system to tackle the number of heating complaints that are made to 311 every winter, making New York City a safer and warmer place to live. Heat Seek NYC utilizes a suite of open-source hardware and web software that detects heating violations in real time, allowing authorities to identify problem areas and provide reliable evidence to ensure fairness in housing court disputes.

Work Category helps low-income New Yorkers find job opportunities more quickly and easily. Utilizing partnerships with workforce nonprofits, NYCHired uniquely tailors their website to the unmet needs of job seekers. The website provides real-time information on job openings and has distinct search options that are unavailable on leading websites.

Learn Category
CourseKicker is an online professional learning network that allows teachers to connect, collaborate and share best practices with colleagues beyond their own schools, anywhere in the world. CourseKicker uses social networking and crowdsourcing techniques to help teachers build strong professional networks, discover best practices, and recommend new connections and great lessons.

Play and Best Data Tool Categories
Explore NYC Parks makes New York a better place to live by making our parks easier to explore, discover, and enjoy. By consolidating NYC park data with the Google Maps API, Explore NYC Parks encourages public utilization and awareness of New York City’s parks and public spaces.

Best Mobile App
Mind My Business gives shopkeepers peace of mind by helping local businesses manage their digital data and strengthen their bottom line. The app provides shopkeepers with business-specific alerts with information vital to the success of their business. With knowledge about issues like rodent sightings, upcoming construction, 311 complaints and changes to city regulations, this app will strengthen the businesses that serve as the backbone of New York City’s economy.

Best Web App
Dream See Do enables students and adults to explore a range of career possibilities and take related experiential challenges with NYC-based mentors. The app empowers people to find their passions and apply their skills productively, resulting in better career choices and alignment with their abilities and interests.

Best Game
PIPs leverages the power of points, smart tools and games to record and reward daily life choices that benefit environmental, community and personal health. By recognizing and rewarding beneficial civic engagement—from recycling and energy-saving to carpooling, bike sharing, and avoiding congested streets—PIPs helps New Yorkers solve environmental, health and livability challenges by securely integrating with multiple partners and centralizing data-tracking actions.

This year’s winners were selected based on their potential positive impact and reach, functionality, long-term viability, and technical design. This year’s Selection Committee was comprised of an esteemed mix of leaders in the technology, design and civic sectors:  Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried, Cornell NYC Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher, New York Public Library Chief Library Officer Mary Lee Kennedy, NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball, Chairman and Co-Founder of Collective(i) Heidi Messer, Counsel to the New York City Mayor Maya Wiley, New York City Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco, and Robin Hood Foundation President Deborah Winshel.

“We are incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to compete in NYC BigApps,” said Heat Seek’s Jarryd Hammel. “This competition and its other entrants constantly pushed us to improve, and our win is evidence of the New York tech community’s power to produce innovative solutions to the city’s toughest civic problems. We can’t wait to show you what we can do this winter, and we promise you’ll be glad you chose us.”

“We are grateful to BigApps for believing in our mission and recognizing the need for a website focused on helping New Yorkers find jobs regardless of their skill level or work experience,” said NYCHired's Thomas McCreery. “Participating in the competition allowed us to build long-term partnerships with the non-profits that assist low-skilled, low-income jobseekers throughout the city. Our next step is to start piloting the site with a select group of nonprofits.”

“NYC BigApps has been a fantastic opportunity to build a great new free resource for teachers in New York,” said CourseKicker’s Paul Henderson. “CourseKicker is the educators’ social network, where teachers can connect and collaborate. Thank you for all the support and encouragement provided by everyone on the BigApps team!”

“I built Explore NYC Parks with the goal of helping my fellow New Yorkers better utilize our amazing parks,” said Explore NYC Parks’ Andy Glass. “It’s been a tremendous experience participating in BigApps and meeting like-minded people using technology to improve New York. I'm very grateful for this opportunity and honored to be recognized.”

“Local businesses are the backbone of our communities,” said Mind My Business’ Aileen Gemma Smith. “We are dedicated to serving these hardworking businesses that make our team so proud to be New Yorkers. Mind My Business was created for mom and pop shops because we believe everyone deserves easy access to open data. We’ve translated it into specific and actionable alerts for shopkeepers.”

“We have really enjoyed the iterative process of the BigApps competition, as well as the peer and mentor support,” said Dream See Do’s Jeremy Berman and Josh Schwartzman. “It has enabled us to continue to refine our product, while both testing and prototyping new features with the great NYC constituents we want to impact. We are excited to continue to share our platform to help NYC residents explore a range of career possibilities and try our related, online experiential learning challenges along the way.”

“BigAppsNYC has been an incredible experience for PIPs, and we are deeply grateful to Mayor de Blasio and the NYCEDC for making it possible,” said PIPs’ Wendy Gordon. “We created PIPs with the understanding that most New Yorkers—like most Americans—are well-intentioned, but doing “what’s good” can take more mental energy than we have to spare. PIPs tech-enabled good platform uses the power of points, smart tools and games to makes positive impact everyday choices easy, fun and rewarding.”

The 2014 competition attracted the largest and most diverse network of supporters yet, led by banner sponsors eBay, Facebook, Microsoft, Pentagram, and Razorfish. Contributions from private-sector partners, including donated venues and in-kind services and prizes, have doubled the competition’s public engagement efforts. This year’s contest was designed and is being managed by HR&A Advisors, Inc., in collaboration with Splash, Super-Vision, and Let’s Collaborate.

“Open data is fueling innovation and entrepreneurship all across New York City,” said John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology & Civic Innovation at Microsoft. “Microsoft has been thrilled to support NYC BigApps as it connects increasingly important data resources to the people that can turn them into real value—New Yorkers themselves. We relay our congratulations to the award recipients and wish continued success to all of the participants.”

“It’s been a pleasure to partner with the EDC and the City government on the BigApps competition and watch the contestants build their creations,” said Serkan Piantino, Site Director of Facebook NY. “Technology isn’t just adding jobs—it’s also enabling new innovations across multiple industries and changing the way people connect with the cities around them. BigApps is a shining example of how New Yorkers are leading that charge.”

“We’ve been thrilled to see all the ideas for how technology and data can be used to address some of NYC's biggest social challenges,” said Lauren Moore, Head of Global Social Innovation at eBay Inc. “We're pleased to be supporting the BigApps competition and the innovators who've participated for a second straight year—this is surely just the start of what will be incredible journey for the finalists as they build their businesses and make a positive impact on the city and its residents.”

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