Alameda County will continue its push for greater community participation and government transparency on Saturday, May 3, at the Alameda County Apps Challenge 2014.1, a unique day-long event designed to challenge the public to create web and mobile applications using Alameda County open data sets. The Apps Challenge will run from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Dublin High School, 8151 Village Parkway, Dublin. Cash prizes will be awarded for civic-minded web and mobile applications.

Alameda County Apps Challenge 2014.1 is the third hackathon sponsored by Alameda County in its effort to increase community engagement and broaden public understanding of local government by opening access to data created and kept by County agencies and departments. The Dublin event is expected to bring together more than 100 software developers, community members, activists and entrepreneurs for a full day of creativity, collaboration and innovation.

“These events are a great way to highlight the many services offered by the County, and it allows the opportunity to tap into the vast pool of talent and creativity available right here in our own community,’’ said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, whose district includes Dublin. “It is my honor to host this year’s Apps Challenge in District 1.”

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A Grand Prize of $3000 will be awarded to the most inventive and user-friendly app or concept that benefits Alameda County residents, businesses and visitors. A second prize of $1500, a third prize of $500 and honorable mentions will also be awarded.

The Apps Challenge is part of a nation-wide movement stemming in part from President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, which directed government agencies to increase transparency and implement open data policies.

Alameda County was one of the first counties in California to host its own hackathons to promote its open data offerings. The County also held its first internal hackathon last year to challenge its employees to come up with apps to help improve customer service and other aspects of County operations. A second internal hackathon is being planned for later this year.

At the Apps Challenge, Alameda County invites participation from residents of all skill levels and age groups: professional and novice developers, high school and college students, seniors, and residents with no technical background but a passion for civic engagement. Each team at the hackathon will include a mixture of coders and “idea” people working together to create functional apps or develop app concepts.

In planning the event, Alameda County is looking to forge partnerships with local education, business and government leaders to maximize outreach to programmers, students and members of the community.

Participants in the May 3 event will have access to the nearly 100 data sets available through the Alameda County Data Sharing Initiative at http://data.acgov.org. The data covers a wide range of topics, including public safety data, a listing of Certified Green Businesses, public health data, maps of senior services and more.

Alameda County held its first Apps Challenge event in December 2012 in Castro Valley. Its second Apps Challenge occurred in April 2013 in Berkeley. Both events drew more than 120 participants and resulted in dozens of clever apps, many of which continue to be used in the community. Prize-winning apps included:

  • AC BookIt!: a clever mobile app that allows users to check if a book is available in the Alameda County library system, reserve the book and get the library’s address. It is available in the Apple App Store.
  • Green By Me: an app that allows users to locate green businesses across Alameda County.
  • ACPR Finder: an app developed by high school students that sifts through County Parks and Recreation data to provide useful information about local parks, trails and recreation facilities.

Judges at the 2013 AC Apps Challenge try to decide who gets the win. Photo pinned by Alameda County.

The cost to participate in Alameda County Apps Challenge 2014.1 is $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. Government employees may participate for free. For more information about the Apps Challenge and to register for the event, please visit: http://code.acgov.org. A mobile version of the site is also available at http://code.acgov.org/mobile/.