The District of Columbia is engaging the public by soliciting "their input into the problems and ideas they have that can be addressed with technology and then to build the best community platform for submitting 311 service requests to the city," according to Apps for Democracy (apps09), an innovation contest sponsored by the District of Columbia's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), which is responsible for DC technology infrastructure and iStrategyLabs, a digital agency focused on providing clients with interactive strategy, experiential marketing and content creation services.
In 2008, the OCTO asked iStrategyLabs how it could make DC.gov's Data Catalog useful for the citizens, visitors, businesses and government agencies of Washington, DC. The Data Catalog contains all manner of open public data featuring real-time crime feeds, school test scores, and poverty indicators, and is the most comprehensive of its kind in the world. The solution was to create Apps for Democracy – a contest that cost Washington, DC $50,000 and returned 47 iPhone, Facebook and web applications with an estimated value in excess of $2,600,000 to the city.
Apps09's goal was to receive responses from 5,000 Washington, DC citizens during the week tof May 4, 2009. iStrategyLabs will produce a citywide "Social Citizen Sunday" event on May 17, 2009, during which people will be encouraged to capture insights from their neighbors. The team that captures the deepest and broadest insights possible will be rewarded with a $1,000 "Social Citizen Award" and public recognition incentives for their participation. Technology developers will compete through three rounds of code jams with the following prize structures:
- Round 1: First prize $3,000, Second prize $2,000
- Round 2: First prize $3,000, Second prize $2,000
- Final Round: First prize $10,000
- Optional Grant: $14,000 over nine months
Awards will be granted by a panel chosen by the OTCO. If one individual or team wins first place in round 1, round 2 and the final round they are guaranteed $16,000. In addition, the OCTO will have the option to award a Community Grant administered by iStrategyLabs for a total of $14,000 over a nine month period for further development and support of the winning application. The winning team has the opportunity to win $30,000 total. Entrants will be judged on the following criteria:
- Usability of 311 API integration;
- Level of consideration of input from gathered from the DC community;
- Utilization of data from the DC Data Catalog;
- Usefulness to the citizens, visitors and government of Washington, DC; and
- Appeal of the application
You can follow Apps for Democracy on Twitter.