NYC BigApps 3.0

BigApps is among the most immediate and hands-on of the City’s efforts to support the New York technology industry and a good example, I think, of how governments can innovate to spur innovation. (It also has a kind of great understated punny name that I didn’t even notice until the fourth or fifth time I saw it.)

The idea behind BigApps is to kickstart the development of applications that use NYC Open Data’s big data sets by offering money, publicity and investor connections to groups that, um, develop applications that use NYC Open Data’s big data sets.

Of the 96 submissions, 12 won in a variety of categories at an event held on Tuesday night. A couple observations:

NYCFacets won for Best Overall Application and this made good sense for at least two reasons. First, based on some chit chat after the presentation with a couple developers, it seems that some of the City’s data is a bit messy and hard to use; so, NYCFacets was solving a real problem. Second, it is super-simpatico with the whole idea behind the BigApps program: better and cleaner data —> apps developed faster/easier/cheaper —> more apps produced. I wonder whether NYCFAcets would have won had the competition been administered by someone other than the people who are trying to get developers to use their data.

Work+ took 2nd place for Best Overall Application and won for Best NYC Mashup. As a person who occasionally needs WiFi while drinking coffee in a quiet place, this app had some personal appeal. Again, it strikes me that its win has to be attributed, at least in part, to the audience for and community surrounding this competition. Sure, I know lots of people who could really use this but I’m not sure about its utility beyond this relatively small cohort.

Funday Genie won the Investor Choice Award meaning the investor judges thought it had the greatest commercial potential and, when compared to the other winning apps, I have to say: You guys know your stuff. I’d be very interested to hear who Fred Wilson, one of the judges, imagines is the “incumbent” that will be challenged by this startup. Time Out?