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Mayor Rahm Emanuel Announces 'Apps for Metro Chicago'

BY Nick Judd | Friday, June 24 2011

From Redeye Chicago:

Now, Chicago is encouraging tech-savvy residents to create and build more mobile, web or Facebook apps through the Apps for Metro Chicago competition, which launches Friday.

The idea is to have the city engage its residents and to integrate available city, county and state data into user-friendly information that Chicagoans can have at their fingertips.

"Help us help you figure out how to make government an accessible piece. Help us write an app. We can't think of everything," Mayor Emanuel told RedEye. "We want the consumer involved in helping draft the applications for that information that they think would be useful for them. If it's useful for them, it's highly likely the other consumers will want similar information."

Apps for Metro Chicago is a collaboration between four governments — the City of Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Cook County, and the State of Illinois. The competition will dole out $50,000 in prize money over three rounds; the first round, for transportation, begins today. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 15, and the first-place finisher gets $5,000.

The next round, for apps that help residents and visitors improve their experience of Chicago metropolitan communities, begins Aug. 28 and ends Sept. 30. The final round, a "grand challenge" for any app that benefits the Chicago metropolitan area, begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 2. Unlike the two previous rounds, the first-place winner of that competition will take home a $10,000 haul. Like the other rounds, there are also prizes for the second- through tenth-place finishers.

Notably, this competition isn't just for mobile applications that benefit Chicago proper — the contest is built with the understanding that Chicago is larger than just what's inside the Loop or even the city limits, and could reward the creation of apps that benefit commuters as well as ones for city-dwellers.

The contest is a project of the Metro Chicago Information Center, an organization that collects and stores data on the metropolitan Chicago region, and is backed by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.