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District of Columbia Announces Second - Apps for Democracy Contest


Contact: Ayanna Smith, (202) 724-5178

Today District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Interim Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Chris Willey announced the District’s second “Apps for Democracy” innovation contest, titled “Apps for Democracy, Community Edition.”

The first Apps for Democracy competition ran from October 14, 2008 to November 13, 2008. The 2008 inaugural contest invited the public to compete for cash prizes in developing applications to make the District’s government data more accessible and useful for the public. The competition was a great success, producing 47 innovative and useful applications in 30 days at a total cost of only $50,000. The applications use open source programming for everyday consumer technologies like the Internet, iPhones, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps and others. The resulting applications offer a wide range of services, from crime alerts to neighborhood profiles to historic tour mapping.  All 47 are available for free at

Inspired by the success of the first Apps for Democracy contest, the new contest will follow the same rules, but with a different objective.

This time the purpose of the applications is to make it easier for DC residents to request city services such as vacant property inspections, tree removals, street repairs, non-emergency public safety assistance, and others.  Applications will create neighborhood-centric websites,  where residents can come together and submit city service requests to improve their communities.  The applications will access the District’s open government data catalogs and will be able to use the District’s new 311 API (Application Programming Interface), which allows citizens to build custom applications for submitting service requests. 

Once again, the competition is open to the general public.  The contest asks entrants to compete for cash prizes by creating innovative applications for consumer technologies using open-source programming.  Entries will be judged by an appointed jury based on public feedback, usefulness to citizens, usefulness to government, and originality.

The Apps for Democracy, Community Edition contest will run for two months, from May 4, 2009 to July 1, 2009. 

The new competition will make the District the first city in the nation to accept service requests from consumer technology devices. Like the first Apps for Democracy contest, the new competition will cost the District only $50,000 and, if successful, will save hundreds of thousands in development costs.  In addition, all the applications developed through the contest will be freely available for use by other state and local governments.

“Just like last year’s contest, this new edition of Apps for Democracy will help us make government services more accessible and bring government closer to the people,” said Mayor Fenty. “And the resulting applications will be a free gift from the District to other municipalities everywhere.”

While the immediate goal of the new Apps for Democracy contest is to develop innovative software for city service requests, its long-term goals are broader.  By enlisting talented developers to create neighborhood-centric websites, the District hopes to foster citizen participation in government, drive private-sector technology innovation and growth, and build a new model for government-private sector collaboration.

“I’m excited to see how the technology community will answer our call for innovative applications, as they did last year,” said District Interim CTO Chris Willey. “Once again, Apps for Democracy will allow the District government to partner with talented technologists in promoting digital democracy.”

To learn more about DC government technology initiatives, visit