This morning Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off the Personal Democracy Forum—a conference about the intersection about technology and politics—by announcing a new annual competition that awards cash prizes to Web developers who come up with innovative Internet and mobile applications using city data.
Mr. Bloomberg also said he’d take the grand-prize winner out to dinner.
For the first stage of the contest, which will be called Big Apps, the city will release what Bloomberg described as a “huge volume of data” from various city agencies. (That means the data will be made available in a machine-readable format that’s conducive to programming.) He gave the example of creating a mobile application out of the Health Department’s restaurant grades.
“What we’re trying to do here is create the connectedness that will benefit the city economically, civic-ly and socially,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who was beamed in live on a huge projector screen via Skype. (He wasn’t able to attend the conference in person.)
The announcement appeared to be well-received by techies present at the conference, who quickly began spreading the word via (what else?) Twitter.
The mayor also said that when the “.nyc” top-level domain becomes available—that’s expected to happen in 2010—the city will create a Web site at data.nyc to house all of the data.