The life of an app developer can be lonely and unrewarding, but for one night neither was true as the City of New York showcased and enriched some of the most innovative app writers in town at the NYC BigApps 2.0 Awards.
The big winner March 31 was Roadify (www.roadify.com), an iPhone app and web service which combines crowd-sourced information with data streams provided by the city to help commuters catch their trains and buses and help drivers find street parking spaces as they open up.
By sending Roadify GPS and text information from their phones as they travel, Roadify users can let others know where buses are along their routes and how long they will take to reach certain destinations. While New York subway riders can’t communicate with Roadify while their trains are underground, they can still give text updates on service problems as soon as they leave the system or as their trains surface and run above ground.
Roadify topped 57 other contestants in the competition, which was aimed at showcasing up-and-coming application developers in New York, which, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is now the number two area in the country in terms of funding for tech startups. Participants in the BigApps competition (www.nycbigapps.com) had to develop apps that used at least one source from the city’s DataMine (www.nyc.gov/data), a huge archive of government-generated data.
“Intellectual capital: That’s New York’s ace in the hole,” said Bloomberg, no stranger to the concept of creating a lucrative high-tech business from scratch. Making note of a reptile that recently escaped its city-owned lodging a few days ago, Bloomberg, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, said what the city really needed was “an app that can find a missing Egyptian cobra at the Bronx Zoo.”
The BigApps event included an Investor Bar where the contestants could chat with local investment companies whether or not they won an award. As part of its grand prize Roadify was supposed to walk off with $5,000, but BMW announced at the event that it was donating enough money to double all of the cash awards.
Other winners included Weeels (www.weeels.com), an app and web service that allows people order a car service and optionally share the ride with other members headed to the same destination. Another winner was Sportaneous (www.sportaneous.com), which helps sports aficionados find players for a pick-up game at a particular place and time.
One clever app which gained Bloomberg’s notice was DontEat.at (www.donteat.at) a student-developed app for diners which works with the popular social networking app Foursquare (www.foursquare.com). If you check in via Foursquare at a restaurant that has been given a grade of “C” rating or lower by the city’s health department, the app sends you a text message to suggest that you might want to dine elsewhere.