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Make an app to benefit New York public transit, win a prize

by Phil Hornshaw

It seems the city and state of New York like mobile apps so much, they’re willing to pay quite a bit to get them made.

According to a story from Mashable, New York State’s Mobile Transit Authority (MTA) has started a new contest for mobile app developers. It’s called the MTA App Quest, and the grand prize for the winning app developer is $15,000. More information about the contest is available on its website, right here.

The major requirement for the contest is using one of the MTA databases the authority has made available online to developers, which would make the app fairly MTA-specific. That data has been available for app developers for some time – since January 2010 – and already about 40 apps have been created that make use of it, Mashable reports.

Many of those were entries into New York City’s app developer contest, called BigApps, and it made use of the MTA databases. In fact, while New York City and State aren’t the only governments to make information like the MTA’s databases available to developers to use to make apps, they are the only governments that have turned the app creation process into a contest.

MTA has added or updated six more data sets for App Quest. The best part is, all that data floating around is going to be great for the people who end up using the apps when the contest is all over. MTA’s data sets include things like the locations of platforms, elevators and where agents are in subway stations. The possibilities of the convenience new MTA apps might bring for New York train riders are pretty endless.

Both the BigApps and the App Quest contests are being run with the help of contest platform ChallengePost, which is actually fronting the $15,000 prize money for the contest. Mashable reports that ChallengePost usually works to collect “money to run crowdsourcing contests for clients like the World Bank and Michelle Obama,” and NYC was the first city to use it for an app contest. But given the successes of BigApps (and if things go well with App Quest), ChallengePost will likely see more cities looking to get in on the app contest wagon. It’s a cheap and easy way to encourage creative people to make navigating cities easier, and it doesn’t consume any resources from the city itself. Talk about a win-win.