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Apps for Communities Challenge

Can a mobile app improve the quality of life for a farmer in America's heartland? Can a web app help school children in Detroit, MI? 

The Knight Foundation and the FCC challenge you to develop a software application (app) that delivers personalized, actionable information to people that are least likely to be online. Using hyper-local government and other public data you should develop an app that enables Americans to benefit from broadband communications -- regardless of geography, race, economic status, disability, residence on Tribal land, or degree of digital or English literacy --by providing easy access to relevant content.
The Apps for Communities Challenge is an initiative of the Knight Foundation and the FCC. The Challenge will offer up to $100,000 in prizes to winning application developers and is intended to bring together providers of public data, developers, and traditionally underserved populations through a national contest. The goals of the Challenge are to: 
  • make local public information more personalized, usable, and accessible for all Americans;
  • promote broadband adoption, particularly among Americans who are less likely to be regular Internet users (including low-income, rural, seniors, people with disabilities and the low digital/English literacy communities); and
  • create better links between Americans and services provided by local, state, Tribal, and federal governments. 
For example, you can create an app that gives consumers and small businesses valuable information about their communities in an easy to understand, mostly graphic way on their cell phones; an app that delivers contract and seasonal job post alerts in English and Spanish via text message; an app that connects people to health care in their communities via public transportation; or an app that makes it easy for people with limited digital or English proficiency to go through intro screens without extensive instructions or pressing many tiny keys.  
The FCC seeks to promote broadband deployment and adoption for all Americans.  New applications can pull new users online, as well as increase the value of a broadband connection for existing users. 
Consistent with the Knight Foundation’s mission to foster informed and engaged communities and FCC’s goal to encourage broadband adoption and deployment, the FCC and Knight Foundation are co-sponsoring this Challenge.  With this contest, we want to reward experiments—good ideas—small ideas with big impact that can be replicated throughout the country.
While the contest is locally focused, we want the apps created out of our contest to be reusable across jurisdictions. It's our hope that out of this contest, people across the country can start collaborating with their governments to provide more effective services over the Internet.
To qualify, you need to build an application -- web, mobile, or text/SMS based that uses one of the [OSI Approved] open source licenses. Any data source used must be publicly available. You will need to host your own application during the judging process and ensure that our panel of judges have easy access to your application (or, in the case of a mobile platform that the judge may not have access to, a demonstration of the working product). Your app will be judged based on the following criteria:
  • Local Impact: Does the app provide easy access to relevant content with an emphasis on hyper-local data from cities, counties, townships, Tribes, and states? Does the app enable better links between Americans and services provided by government? 
  • User experience and presentation: Is the app simple, well-designed, and easy to use for the intended audience, e.g., low-income, rural, seniors, people with disabilities, the low digital/English literacy communities? 
  • Accessibility: Is the app usable by and useful to people with disabilities? 
  • Sustainability: How likely is this app to survive post contest? Is this a viable app? Is the idea promising enough to warrant sustained development and attention? 
  • Focus on traditionally disconnected populations: Is the app likely to promote broadband communications adoption, particularly among Americans who may not be regular Internet users (including low-income, rural, seniors, people with disabilities and the low digital/English literacy communities)?

As part of the FCC's continuing commitment to make data and mapping resources available to the public, check out the list of developer toolsdata sets, and APIs on

To read more about the Apps for Communities contest, or to submit an application, visit the Apps for Communities entry at


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