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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NYC BigApps Ideas Challenge Looks to Involve Everyone

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 01:00 PM PDT
SimpleGeo Places
Factual continues to spread its points of interest database across the Internet. SimpleGeo will incorporate Factual’s business listings into its SimpleGeo Places API. Developers will then be able to access 30 million places across 45 countries to become what is likely the largest business listings database available via API. Factual is also the source of Facebook’s popular Places feature.

When Factual launched its business listings, we asked will it become the go-to location database? The partnership with SimpleGeo points to the combined data and service as the one to beat. “Based on what developers have been asking for, it made a lot of sense for us to combine SimpleGeo’s expertise with location technology with Factual’s comprehensive Places data,” Factual’s Bill Michels said. Though there is a Factual API, it’s built around accessing all types of data stored within Factual. SimpleGeo Places is strictly focused on making points of interest data available via its API.

SimpleGeo has prided itself on making its data as open as possible. The original SimpleGeo Places data is licensed as Creative Commons with no restrictions. While the terms around data that SimpleGeo owns hasn’t changed, Factual’s is subject to its existing terms of service. Factual terms also also very open, allowing for caching of the data, for example. The original SimpleGeo dataset will be made freely available as a download.

Regardless of licensing, the combined business listings API is helping location developers access more place data. The service will help kick-start new location apps, from check-in to recommendations. Mixed with the SimpleGeo Context API, which provides information about a location’s neighborhood and city, the company has a great platform for developers. The SimpleGeo Storage API, which lets developer query their own data, further amplifies the possibilities within the geo platform.

SimpleGeo will also be contributing updates to the combined database back into Factual, further improving its local data, which hints at Factual’s biggest value. It takes many references to a place then aggregates and cleans the data. Through an automated process, Factual aims to have the richest dataset available. And now that dataset will be even easier to access via SimpleGeo.

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Posted: 23 Jun 2011 10:43 AM PDT

The New York City Economic Development Corporation recently launched an apps contest for the rest of us. Unlike the NYC BigApps 1.0 and 2.0 contests the NYC BigApps Ideas Challenge is aimed at discovering problems that need solving. Participants can compete by going to a website powered by ChallengePost and filling in the blank for “I want an NYC app that…” The contest is open to both developers and non-developers and no special skills are required. So if you drive a cab, work as a podiatrist, or eke by as freelance tech writer this is your chance to contribute.



The BigApps 1.0 and 2.0 contests let developers use their imaginations to see what they could create for the citizens of the Big Apple. They certainly created some interesting and useful apps, however, New York city is a large and diverse place. It makes sense that city leaders would also ask common people what their problems are. You don’t have to have a solution to the problem in this contest and that is what makes it different and more engaging to a broader audience. Maybe this approach can help illuminate issues that might go otherwise unnoticed by developers or government officials in other types of contests.


“Since Launching this morning, we’ve recieved over 100 submissions, ranging from techie developer tool ideas to app ideas that help you get the most out of NYC.” wrote Samantha Tse in the ChallengePost Blog. A quick glance at the contest webpage reveals some great ideas:

If one visits or lives in New York these ideas make great sense. When buildings have thousands of residents, moving between them can be analogous to moving from one small town to another. If all you can see when you get there are closed doors and hallways wouldn’t you want an app to get to know people? If you have ever traveled through New York City during different parts of the day you see immediately why a real-time or predictive population app would be invaluable. One might choose to get off at a different subway station in a less busy area and thus save 20 minutes standing in line for lunch.

A slightly deeper investigation shows that some of the suggested problems have been covered by past BigApps contest entries. Will T. from Brooklyn, NY suggested an app that would illustrate parking regulations and Street cleaning schedules. Ben Sann, the founder of BestParking (one of the BigApps 2.0 winners) left a comment explaining how his app worked and what it could do to solve the problem. This is a perfect example of how different communities can exchange information and form connections though this type of event.

Ideas can be submitted until July 28, 2011. Contestants can win $100 if their idea is voted into the top 25 and additional $250 if they are chosen as one of the top 10 by a panel of judges. Head over to the contest website for more details and to submit your idea.

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