Trends on Tuesday: Providing Anytime, Anywhere Government Through Mobile App Competitions

Dec 29, 2015

Agencies have used an open data competition approach in their quest to provide anytime, anywhere government. For example, in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted the Apps for the Environment challenge and has a hub for apps created using EPA data.

Fighting businessmen

Here’s an update on challenges hosted by other agencies:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), hosted a nationwide Reference Data Challenge to create mobile apps through Devpost. The concept behind this challenge was that developers could help scientists and engineers through organizing data.

Meru Lab Reference's Element Info screen on the Android app.
They awarded a total value of $45,000 to three challenge winners.

  • The ChemBook App holds details and properties on elements and compounds.
  • The LabPal App combined four different NIST datasets to assist anyone involved in the fields of chemistry, engineering, or physics.
  • The Meru Lab Reference App allows users to view up-to-date chemical species with the help of near field communication (NFC).

In November, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced a new competition, Addiction Research: There’s an App for that to see how mobile apps can affect future addiction studies.

NIDA is requiring all apps be created using Apple Inc.’s ResearchKit, which is designed specifically for biomedical and health research. For the challenge, NIDA encourages addiction researchers to collaborate with developers and engineers to create a winning research app.

The competition runs until April 29, 2016, and the winning app will be announced in August 2016. Three prizes may be awarded: $50,000 for 1st place; $30,000 for 2nd place; and $20,000 for 3rd place—for a total prize award pool of up to $100,000.