Chicago Apps Contest Round II: Community Apps that bring the civic awesomeness

Round II: Apps for Metro Chicago Community Round

App contest produces more civic minded apps

For those of you who may not have heard, Chicago is hosting an application contest using open data produced by the city, counties, and the state. The contest is three rounds each with a different focus. The first round winner was transportation in which SpotHero. The next round is the Community Round which requires that the applications have a community focus. Here’s a brief introduction video that explains the general idea.

There were a few standouts from this round’s ten finalists that are my personal favorites because they have a very civic minded focus. Because let’s be for real: There are plenty of apps that tell us when our train is going to get here, how to get to the concert, and how to report problems. These apps take on big problems in a creative way.

Techno Finder

Techno Finder enables users to find places where they can access the wifi or the internet for free. The app is aimed at people who may not have access to a computer at home. They can use the mobile app to see where the nearest wifi access point is and if they provide training.

But my favorite part about this app is that it works with a dumb phone. You simply call the number and enter your zipcode. It will then give you five places that offer free internet. You pick the one you want and it will give you the address, hours, wifi access, and if they offer training. If you choose, the app will text you the information. It’s free.

This app was created by Code For America Fellow @RyanResella

iFindit Chicago

I’m pretty sure this is one of the first apps to fight hunger. This mobile app will tell the user the nearest food pantry, medical center, or homeless shelter and provide information about that location. It will also tell the user the nearest store/farmer’s market that accepts food stamps or WIC payments.

This app was created by Elizabeth Parker (@theRword)


One of the biggest problems with unemployment is that health insurance is linked with employment. Unlike a car, there isn’t really a way you can know what a medical procedure costs in advance.

That was before OkCopay

Using public data from the City of Chicago and the Cook County medical system, OkCopay is able to help users comparison shop for medical or dental needs.

You put in your zipcode, select what type of service you need, and it will give you a list of places that offer that procedure/service and what they cost OUT OF POCKET. (So, if you don’t have insurance this app is VERY useful)

It will also tell you about the service (for instance, what to expect during a minor illness exam)

This application was created by a Chicago Startup called @OkCopay.

You can see the entire list of finalists on the Apps for Metro Chicago Website You can also follow them on Twitter @apps4chicago

I would like to point out that ALL the apps you see here are a result of the OpenGov movement in Chicago. The city and the county are making huge efforts to release as much data as possible to programmers and developers keep building cool stuff like this. (Anyone who thinks OpenGov is dead in Chicago needs to wake up and smell the celery salt)

I’d also like to state that the best is yet to come. This is round TWO – the final round for the grand prize ends December 14th.

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