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

June 20, 2013

$150,000 in Prize Money Awarded to Winning Applications Which Use City, Private and Crowdsourced Data to Solve Critical City Challenges 

Hackathons and Meetups Leveraged by Participants to Generate Ideas, Form Teams, and Receive Feedback 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the winners of NYC BigApps 2013, the fourth annual competition for software developers and members of the public to create web or mobile applications using public, private or crowdsourced data. A total of eight prizes were awarded to seven winning applications, which were selected from 54 eligible applications submitted for this year’s contest. The 2013 Grand Prize was awarded to HealthyOut, an app which makes it easy for New Yorkers to find healthy eating options at nearby restaurants, customized to their dietary needs and preferences. Additional winning applications focused on simplifying residential solar installation assessments; visually teaching kids how to code; providing essential information about child care centers; humanizing the process of applying for government benefits/services; supporting New Yorkers  with  job searches, applications, and interviews; and supplying individually-tailored weather and parking information. Originally launched in 2009 as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the technology sector, increase transparency in government, as well as improve the quality of life for New Yorkers and visitors, NYC BigApps has grown each year, and this year included more than 350 new datasets from more than 60 City agencies, commissions, and Business Improvement Districts, for a total of more than 1,000 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, Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Rahul Merchant, Member of the BMW iVentures Management Committee Stefan Sengewald, Founder Sahadeva Hammari, New York Tech Meetup Executive Director Jessica Lawrence, and representatives from members of the winning NYC BigApps 2013 teams.

“In four years, NYC BigApps has helped launch nearly 300 new apps and made government more transparent and accountable,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This year’s open, collaborative process raised the bar for the quality of the apps that made it into the competition. The creative atmosphere that our growing tech community has cultivated is making New York City the hottest spot in the tech world.”

“Mayor Bloomberg is committed to encouraging innovation both in the private sector and within the City government – with no better example than the annual BigApps competition,” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “This year’s winners will join a remarkable list of app developers and companies that are creating jobs here and strengthening our tech ecosystem.”

“This year’s BigApps competition is the most innovative yet, building on even more datasets and providing additional opportunities for collaboration and feedback among the creative participants,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “This year, all submissions focused on solving  key city challenges, the result of which will be dozens of cutting-edge apps with the potential to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Thank you to all of the BigApps participants, especially this year’s extraordinary group of winners.”

“DoITT is honored to once again partner in the NYC BigApps competition, and I thank all participants for their contribution to New York City,” said Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul N. Merchant. “This groundbreaking contest highlights one of our greatest strengths: innovation driven by New Yorkers. By leveraging new data sets from the City, state, and federal government, as well as the private sector, NYC BigApps inspires tools that help make our spaces greener, daily lives easier, and overall New York City experiences more fulfilling.”

“Mayor Bloomberg is committed to open data to enable developers to collaborate in order to better serve New Yorkers through technology, which is why it’s a vital part of New York City’s Digital Roadmap,” said Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer. “This year’s BigApps winners and participants are a testament to NYC’s vibrant tech community and the innovation occurring in the City. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

This year’s BigApps contest has built upon the tremendous success of the previous three competitions, and for the first time, participants were able to incorporate approved Federal, State and private sector datasets and APIs, as well as create their own data sets for the City through the use of their apps.  Over the course of the previous three competitions, NYC BigApps has already helped create nearly 240 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 teams for NYC BigApps 2013 will receive cash prizes totaling $150,000, in addition to several non-monetary prizes, including the chance to demo at NY Tech Meetup; advance to the finalist round to enter TechStars or BluePrint Health; pitch the Blue Ridge Foundation and eBay for free office space; and pitch Code for America to join their accelerator program. Winners also will be eligible to join the Founders’ Network, which provides networking and startup business support for winners wishing to launch companies around their apps.

NYC BigApps 2013 was also designed to engage technologists, City government, private sector and nonprofit organizations, and the public to work together to solve specific New York City challenges, known as BigIssues.  Four BigIssues focus areas were selected for the 2013 competition: Jobs and Economic Mobility, Healthy Living, Lifelong Learning, and Cleanweb: Energy, Environment, and Resilience.  The best app in each of the four focus areas won a substantial prize, and was eligible for the NYC BigApps 2013 Grand Prize.

This year’s NYC BigApps winners are:

NYC BigApps 2013 Grand Prize Winner and Best Healthy Living App: HealthyOut, $55,000

HealthyOut is an iPhone app that allows New Yorkers to quickly locate healthy meals at restaurants nearby. With a few simple clicks, users can search for dishes by nutrition or mood preference. Co-founder Wendy Nguyen notes, “We now spend 50% of our food dollars outside of the home but it's where we make our least healthy decisions. By using technology to help people proactively make healthy choices, HealthyOut can start to influence better eating decisions while creating incentives for the restaurant industry to create healthier meals.” HealthyOut has already cracked the top 5 apps in the iTunes Food and Drink list with its elegant, simple interface and powerful search tools. Team members: Wendy Nguyen, Jonathan Hironaga, and Dan Myers.

Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App: ChildCareDesk, $25,000

ChildCareDesk in an Android app designed to help parents find quality child care centers. The app displays an easy to navigate list of child care locations on a map with Yelp reviews and other essential information overlaid on top of the map pins, making browsing child care centers fast and easy. Each child care center in ChildCareDesk also includes detailed information provided by various City accreditation agencies to help parents make informed choices. ChildCareDesk also allows users to subscribe to notifications from a child care center so that parents will be alerted if a spot at a location opens up. Child care centers themselves can interact with ChildCareDesk via SMS to update availability and other information, providing New Yorkers with the most up to date information. Team members: Parminder Singh, Kedar Sarmalkar, Suraj Reddy, and Bhavyan Mehta.

Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App, Second Place: Helping Hands, $15,000

Helping Hands is a mobile web app that helps New Yorkers navigate, enroll, and apply for a variety of social benefits. As co-creator Madelena Mak points out, “it’s easy to lose hope when faced with the daunting task of finding and browsing through all the information related to applying for benefits. Helping Hands adds a support network of peers, helpers and mentors to the process who add tips, reviews and words of encouragement into the process, making that experience more human and easier to navigate.” Helping Hands was built as an entirely mobile web app that is compatible with a variety of affordable smartphones in order to assist low-income New Yorkers in search of benefit information. . Team members: Madelena Mak, Raj Kandathi, Supatra Indharameesup, and Amanda Flowers.

Best Jobs and Economic Mobility App, Third Place: Hired In NY, $10,000

Hired in NY is a mobile web app that makes it easy to discover, connect and apply to thousands of jobs at 2,000 New York-based startups and small companies. Hired In NY manages a user’s job search through an intelligent, customized to-do list and helps them find the right job . Built on top of the same data set as the popular “Made in NY” site, Hired in NY also provides a new, rich API with many new pieces of information about each startup and the jobs available, making it easier to browse jobs and have the best information possible to ensure an application stands out. Team: Jeff Novich, Toby Matejovsky, Rory Pettingill, Andrew Pinzler, and Christopher Kennedy.

Best Cleanweb: Energy, Environment and Resilience App: SolarList, $20,000

SolarList is a mobile web app that calculates a homeowner’s costs and savings for a range of solar and financial options, making it simpler than ever for users to understand how to install solar in their home. Their team notes, “We train students and young entrepreneurs to educate homeowners about their solar options by providing a free, third-party solar assessments using the SolarList app. Educated homeowners are then referred to our preferred network of installers so that they can begin the process of going solar as a confident, educated consumer." According to Solar One, a New York City based nonprofit that focuses on Solar energy, “NYC could install enough solar to supply 40% of the City’s electricity during peak demand, but has only tapped 0.17% of its full potential." Team members: Michael Conti, Kai Pham, John Romankiewicz, and Tyler Tringas

Best Lifelong Learning App: Hopscotch, $20,000

Hopscotch is an iPad app that teaches kids to code though an innovative, simple interface. Rather than using the complex syntax found in written programming languages or relying on typing at all, Hopscotch developed a friendly, touch-screen interface that makes it easy for kids to drag and drop interface elements to create their own games, apps and scripts. “It's like Legos for software--part tool, part toy, part learning experience...” notes team member Jocelyn Leavitt, who adds, “a necessary component of the technology ecosystem is a healthy supply of engineers. However, most of our schools aren't teaching computer science or producing students that will go into engineering careers... Hopscotch helps by providing a non-intimidating way for kids to get started learning computing concepts." Team members: Samantha John and Jocelyn Leavitt

Best Wildcard App: Poncho, $5,000

Poncho is a text and email-based app that provides a personalized weather service tailored to a user’s daily routine. Poncho also uses public City data provided by NYC Open Data and MTA APIs to alert New Yorkers’ of train delays and alternate side parking changes to make their commutes more predictable and pleasant. Poncho’s test messages and emails feature delightful, clever language that makes its weather reports a must read. “For years, I've been frustrated by all the weather services and apps. All I want to know about today's weather is very simple: cold or warm; whether it's going to rain; or whether it's going to snow. But all the weather services just give me numbers and other weather information that I don't really care about. So I decided to build Poncho,” says Kuan Huang, Poncho’s founder. Team members: Kuan Huang

This year’s NYC BigApps judging panel was comprised of: Dawn Barber, Co-founder, New York Tech Meetup; John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks; Benjamin Branham, Chief of Staff, New York City Economic Development Corporation; Esther Dyson, Angel Investor and Philanthropist, Chairman, EDventure; Arianna Huffington, Chair, President, and Editor-in-Chief, the Huffington Post Media Group; Albert Lee, Manager Director, IDEO New York; Lawrence Lenihan, Founder, CEO and Managing Director, FirstMark Capital; Rahul Merchant, New York City Chief Information & Innovation Officer and Commissioner, NYC DoITT; Tom Pinckney, Head of NYC R&D, eBay; Ulrich Quay, Managing Director, BMW iVentures; Daniel Schultz, Co-founder & Managing Director, DFJ Gotham Ventures; David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup; and Fred Wilson, Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures.

NYC BigApps 2013 is powered by, an online platform that allows users to post project ideas and team up to build new apps, creative projects, startups, and more. CollabFinder also organized and led the program’s ambitious new creative direction, including the competition’s new focus on BigIssues, partnerships with leading nonprofits and companies in New York City, and packed hackathon and meetup schedule. The competition is supported by overall strategic partners BMW iVentures and eBay, Inc., whose support have made it possible to greatly increase the amount of prizes and innovative events throughout the competition. NYC BigApps 2013 also features a new brand identity, created by strategic design partner and leading design consultancy, Pentagram.

NYC BigApps’ strategic BigIssue partners ensure participants receive a wealth of supportive resources throughout the competition, including access to detailed problem briefs that describe NYC challenges, expert advisors that advise and give app feedback, and dedicated in-person events where participants can engage with the community and work on their apps.  The Blue Ridge Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation, and Coatue Foundation served as strategic BigIssue sponsors for the Jobs and Economic Mobility and Lifelong Learning categories.  The Cleanweb Initiative – NYC, a consortium consisting of the Cleanweb Initiative, NYC ACRE, Pure Energy Partners, and Solar One, served as the strategic BigIssue sponsor for the CleanWeb: Environment, Energy and Resilience category. 

As the featured BigIssue track this year, the three Jobs and Economic Mobility winners also have the opportunity to earn follow-on funding for future app improvements made over the course of the next year. Jobs and Economic Mobility is part of the City’s broader suite of LINK Initiatives designed to connect low-income New Yorkers with opportunities in the city’s knowledge economy. While many low-income New Yorkers do not have access to computer at home, they do have access to smartphones. The Jobs and Economic Mobility track aims to connect underserved populations to employment opportunities and social support services via readily available mobile platforms thereby increasing the economic opportunities for all NYC residents.

NYC BigApps 2013 was open to individual developers, as well companies and non-profits with fewer than 25 employees.  Last year’s NYC BigApps 3.0 Grand Prize winner, Ontodia/ NYC Facets, partnered with NYC BigApps to allow participants to use their database and API tools which make it easier for developers to find, combine, and pull data for use in their apps.  In addition, NYC has partnered with diverse private sector companies and organizations to allow for the use of approved private sector datasets and APIs.  Private sector data providers include 8coupons, Aviary,, Carbon Calculated, CartoDB, CareerBuilder, Carpoolworld, CEO Works, CollegeRecruiter, Donors Choose, eBay, Etsy, Foursquare, The Human Services Council, Indeed, Khan Academy, Legal Information for Families Today, Lehman Community Connect, LinkUp, Meetup, The New York Times, Newsblur, OpenEI, Paypal, Public Health Solutions, PVWATTS, SeatGeek, Shapeways, SimplyHired, Single Stop USA, Twilio, Twitter, Vimeo, Yelp, Yipit, and Zemanta. Additionally, new public sector datasets include Open New York,, Checkbook NYC API, and the MTA. For the first time, apps that generate new datasets relevant to New York City through user input were also considered for this year’s competition, allowing the City to benefit from technology’s crowdsourcing abilities.

"We are delighted to sponsor NYC Big Apps once again,” said Ulrich Quay, Managing Director of BMW iVentures.  “This is one of the most prestigious app competitions worldwide. BMW invested in two previous winners which demonstrates the high quality of participating start-ups."

"It's been exciting to see the city's continued support of startup innovation through programs like BigApps,” said Tom Pinckney, Head of eBay NYC. “We were pleased to share the resources of our New York R&D office with the city in its effort to address key social challenges through this year's competition."

"In five short years, BigApps has become an icon on the New York tech scene,” said Michael Bierut, Partner, Pentagram Design.  “To consolidate its status, and to underline the essential nature of digital thinkers to the city's economy, Pentagram created a symbol that marries the world of data analysis with the familiar iconography of New York City: Big Data meets the Big Apple."

“We were thrilled to partner with the City and run the renown NYC BigApps competition this year,” said Sahadeva Hammari, CEO of  “CollabFinder was built to help people team up and solve big problems and it’s wonderful to see that many of the incredible apps coming out of this year’s competition were created by teams that met on the CollabFinder platform.”

Originally launched in 2009 by Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Big Apps has helped create nearly 300 applications, and has engaged more than 375,000 unique visitors to the website leading to more than 83,000 people voting on specific apps.  The first NYC BigApps competition in 2009 made more than 170 official City data sets available and received 85 eligible submissions.  The Grand Prize for Best Overall Application was awarded to WayFinder NYC, an application designed to help locate the nearest subway, bus or New Jersey PATH station.  The developer of NYC Way, MyCityWay, received the first investment by the NYC Entrepreneurial Fund, a $22 million seed and early-stage investment fund established by the NYCEDC and managed by FirstMark Capital.

In 2010, NYC BigApps 2.0 was launched, making available nearly 400 data sets and leading to the selection of 14 winning applications from a pool of 58 submissions. The Grand Prize was awarded to the Roadify iPhone App, which alerts users to the latest subway, bus, or driving conditions by using official transit data and real-time updates from commuters. NYC BigApps 3.0 was launched in the fall 2011 and featured over 750 datasets on the NYC Open Data platform. A total of 11 winning applications were selected from a record 96 eligible applications that were submitted for the contest. The Best Overall Application was awarded to NYCFacets, which streamlines and simplifies the process for accessing, understanding, and utilizing the tremendous amount of data available in the City’s NYC Open Data portal. NYC Facets is now serving as a BigApps 2013 data partner, demonstrating the many benefits of mutual engagement of the City and technology community.

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