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The District's Visionary "Apps for Democracy" Challenge

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, October 23 2008

Apps for Democracy is a remarkable contest for software developers launched by the city government of Washington DC. The challenge? Build applications for Facebook, iPhones, Google Maps, and more that make the lives of DC citizens better. And do it while making use of the city's rich data catalog, which contains structured data on everything from ongoing construction projects to crime reports to sites along the African American Heritage Trail. Up for grabs is $20,000 in prize money, including two $500 people's choice awards voted on by fellow coders.

The contest runs through November 14th and you don't, I don't think, have to be a DC resident to participate. The contest is a project of the DC city government under the Blackberryin' Mayor Adrian Fenty (seriously, the guy carries three Blackberries around -- that's hard core), iStrategyLabs, and Mashable. Here's District CTO Vivek Kundra, who came out of the vibrant Virginia poli-tech scene, on the thinking behind Apps for Democracy:

We are ushering in a new age of participatory democracy, one in which technology is developed by the people for the people.

Hats off to the District for realizing the value of the mountain of data that the city collects
and the willingness of citizens to participate in their own democracy. Naturally, the contest has a Twitter hashtag: #apps08. (Thanks Matthew Burton)