Affordable housing, civic engagement, connected cities and zero waste. That’s the name of the game this year for NYC BigApps, which chose a winner in each of the categories Wednesday night.
BigApps is a city-funded competition designed to encourage civic-minded technologists to pursue ideas that will improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. Each winner receives $25,000 and the help of a support network that includes top blue-chip tech companies, city agencies and policymakers.
Here are the winning projects (and their creators):
- (Dan Kass and Georges Clement)
“Basically it’s a tool to empower tenants to get resolution in complaints with their landlords,” cofounder Georges Clement explained. “It gives them an opportunity to gather evidence which includes documenting and taking photos, and we have an algorithm which spits out a plan of action for them. This helps so that when they actually go to housing court with a case (over 90 percent of tenants in housing court are self-represented) they can build a case. We’re able to automate a lot of the tasks they have to do.”
- (Alex Bodman, Sam Keene and Martin Berggren)
“The idea of Treasures is that instead of throwing something away, you give it away,” said cofounder Alex Bodman. “You’ve got something that’s too good to throw away, so you put it out on the curb. We wanted to use mobile technology to make that even better by allowing you to upload a picture and the location on a map.”
- (Melanie Lovelle and Dan Beeby)
“It’s an app that low-income families can use to understand the benefits they’re eligible for,” cofounder Dan Beeby said. “They do a short, 10-minute interview questionnaire about their family size, age, income and more, and at the end you get a report about the dollar amount you could be eligible for, as well as budgeting information. It helps families learn about the benefits they’re eligible to get from local, state and the federal government.”
- (Tommy Mitchell)
“It started out as a solar-powered charging station for mobile devices in public spaces,” founder Tommy Mitchell explained. “And we found that when people’s phones died they started actually talking to each other and connecting. So we wanted to expand beyond charging and now include a WiFi hotspot and environmental sensors. We made an app called Open Outlet that directs you to any public charging station.”