Apps contests for non-programmers

In a welcome twist for people with good ideas but no programming skills, two U.S. cities are trying a new take on the latest trend in applications development — the competition.

In New York City, the NYC BigAppsIdea challenge is asking the public to share the apps they want for residents, businesses, and visitors.To enter the contest, registered participants answer the follow question in 140 characters or less: “I want a NYC App that ______.” Categories include developer tools, getting around NYC, and NYC politics and civics. Public voting will select the top 25 ideas, and a panel of judges will choose the top 10. Each top 10 winner will receive $250; winning apps may be developed as part of the city’s NYC BigApps 3.0 competition, which is expected to launch this fall. Both competitions are sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. Submissions are due on July 28, 2011.

In Illinois, Apps for Metro Chicago invites software developers, community groups, businesses, and individuals to build apps that solve problems and improve services in at least one of seven counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Developers can access 175 datasets from the City of Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Cook County, and the State of Illinois. Unlike New York, the Chicago competition is looking for fully realized applications, but officials will try to help people with good ideas find developers. The three-phase contest will solicit apps in the following areas: transportation, community, and grand challenge (which is as broad as it sounds). Winners will be selected through a combination of public votes and a panel of judges. The transportation competition is open from June 24 through August 15; the first-prize winner receives $5,000.

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