NYC Big Apps competition adds new health category

The NYC Big Apps competition includes the Best Health Application category for the first time since the challenge began. The third annual event, announced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, requires developers to incorporate public data into an app that will improve the city. It’s going on now and will continue until January 25, 2012, when final submissions are due.

The city released health and health-related datasets from various sources including health organizations, restaurant inspection reports, Community Health Survey and data on World Trade Center health disorders. Brandon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost, the company that manages the competition, says he’s excited to see what innovators will do with the data. “There are dozens of examples where the data doesn’t necessarily tell you right away what kind of app is going to be the most creative. And that’s the most exciting part about it,” Kessler said.

Participants from anywhere in the country can submit their ideas and are eligible to win $4,000 for developing the best health app. The winner of the Best Overall category will receive $10,000 and will have the opportunity to demo at NY Tech Meetup. In addition to these incentives, developers have the chance to gain exposure by having their ideas heard by entrepreneurs and VCs on the judging panel.

In the health category, judges are looking for an app that promotes healthy behavior, improves access to health care resources and aids health education and understanding of health trends. Apps can be built for any broadly available software platform and will be evaluated on three main criteria: the quality of the idea, the implementation of the idea, and the potential impact on New York City residents, visitors and businesses. Competition judge and startup investor Esther Dyson said she stresses the last criterion. “I look mostly for the developers’ ability to realize the potential,” Dyson said. “Can they really pull it off, market it, get people to use it and actually benefit from it?”

Between four and five million dollars in software is created annually as a result of the competition. “It’s a tremendous return on investment,” Kessler said. And in the end, city residents and visitors get free apps that they created and can use about the city.

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