NYC BigApps is an annual competition sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. It provides programmers, developers, designers, and entrepreneurs with access to municipal data sets to build technological products that address civic issues affecting New York City. Through the NYC Open Data portal and other private and non-profit data sources, contestants have access to more than 1,000 data sets and APIs. Examples of available data include weekly traffic updates, schedules of citywide events, property sales records, catalogs of restaurant inspections, and geographic data about the location of school and voting districts. The contest is part of a broader New York City effort to increase government transparency and encourage entrepreneurship.
Results & challenges
|Year||Produced By||Number of Applicants||Winners|
|2009||ChallengePost||85||WayFinderNYC, Taxihack, Big Apple Ed, Trees Near You, NYC Way, PushPinWeb, UpNext 3D NYC, Actuatr, New York City Parks and Recreation Online, Bookzee|
|2010||ChallengePost||57||Roadify, Sportaneous, Parking Finder, Appetition, cultureNOW, Weels, NextStop, DontEat.at, NYC Data Web, NYCPlanIt|
|2011||ChallengePost||96||NYCFacets, Work+, The Funday Genie, Embark NYC, 596 Acres, Sage, TestFlip, ParkAlly, Uhpartments, New York Trip Builder, Scene Near Me|
|2013||CollabFinder||118||HealthyOut, Poncho, Hopscotch, SolarList, Hired in NY, Helping Hands, Child Care Desk|
|2014||HR&A Advisors||N/A||Contest underway|
Some contest winners have gone on to become viable companies. For example, MyCityWay, was a contest winner in 2010. MyCityWay subsequently raised venture capital funding from FirstMark Capital and IA Ventures, as well as a strategic investment from BMW.  Embark NYC, the mass transit application which won Best Mobility App in the NYC BigApps 3.0 competition, received investment from BMW i Ventures in 2012 and was acquired by Apple in 2013.
Yet like many app competitions driven by government data, many of the winning apps have not developed into viable companies. One challenge that civic hacking competitions face is that “they rely on programmers to define problems, instead of citizens or even government itself.”  Hana Schank wrote of the 2011 contest that “the problem with the  BigApps contest is that it leaves both user needs and likely user behavior out of the equation, instead beginning with an enormous data dump and asking developers to make something cool out of it”. 
Recognizing these challenges, the 2013 BigApps competition introduced specific problem briefs organized around five “BigIssues” related to issues affecting New York City: Jobs and Economic Mobility, Cleanweb: Energy, Environment, and Resilience, Healthy Living, and Lifelong Learning. The competition also included events where organizations and City agencies versed in a “BigIssue” presented data sets and ideas to competitors.
Judges for the contest have included: Dawn Barber, Co-founder, New York Tech Meetup; John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks; Chris Dixon, CEO & Co-founder, Hunch; Jack Dorsey, CEO, Square, and Co-founder, Twitter; Esther Dyson, Chairman, EDventure; Lawrence Lenihan, Founder, CEO and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital; Naveen Selvadurai, Co-founder, Foursquare; Steven Strauss, Managing Director, NYCEDC; Kara Swisher, Co-Executive Director, All Things Digital; Fred Wilson, Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures.
- WORTHAM, JENNA. "New York City Wants You to Create an App For That". The New York Times. 6 Oct 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- "MyCityWay". CrunchBase. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- Wauters, Robin. "BMW Teams Up With, Invests $5 Million In MyCityWay". TechCrunch. 25 Feb 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- http://letsembark.com/. March 24, 2014.
- Anthony M. Townsend, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, 2013
- Hana Schank, "New York City’s Digital Deficiency ". Fast Company. December 14, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
- "MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF NYC BIGAPPS 2.0 COMPETITION". NYC.gov. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- Alan Fever, The Mayor's Geek Squad, NY Times, March 23, 2013
- Erin Durkin, Mayor Michael Bloomberg employs innovative contest style to bring bright, new ideas to meet city challenges, NYDailyNews, February 10, 2013
- John Leland,Turning Unused Acres Green, NY Times, April 29, 2012
- Phyllis Furman, Mayor hands out prizes to local software developers who turn NYC data into easy-to-use apps, NYDailyNews, April 18, 2012
- Joshua Brustein, Contest Whose Winners May Not Succeed, NY Times, March 2, 2012
- Joshua Brustein, In M.T.A. App Contest, Many Buttons Worth Pushing, NY Times, January 6, 2012
- Brad Stenger, "Scene Near Me" Hackers: From BigApps to TimesOpen, NY Times, November 21, 2011
- Brad Stenger, TimesOpen: Social Media on Nov 14, NY Times, November 4, 2011
- Joshua Brustein, Want to Join Me for a Game? Anyone? NY Times, September 30, 2011
- Joshua Brustein, Commuter Reports From, Well, Commuters, NY Times, April 29, 2011
- Patrick McGeehan, Bloomberg Announces Investment in Tech Start-Up, NY Times, May 25, 2010
- Associated Press,Subway finder wins BigApps competition, NY Post, February 8, 2010
- Adam Lisberg, New award-winning phone app, Wayfinder NYC, points the (sub)way, NYDailyNews, February 5, 2010
- Jenna Wortham, New York City Names Winners of Apps Contest, NY Times, February 4, 2010
- Robert Johnson, Techies show off big app-etites for city info, NYDailyNews, December 28, 2009
- Sewell Chan, City Errantly Releases Private Data Gathered in 'Apps' Contest, NY Times, October 7, 2009
- Sewell Chan, City Admits Lapse in Data Release, NY Times, October 7, 2009
- Emily S. Rueb, When Road Rage Turns Into a Brawl, NY Times, October 6, 2009
- Jenna Wortham, New York City Wants You to Create an App For That, NY Times, October 6, 2009
- Sewell Chan and Patrick MCgeehan, City Invites Software Developers to Crunch Big Data Sets, NY Times, June 29, 2009