Contest urges smartphone application designers to create San Diego-specific app
By Loralee Olejnik | Downtown News
Mayor Jerry Sanders recently unveiled plans for an AT&T San Diego Apps Challenge, a contest for application developers to create a San Diego-specific application focused on improving the lives of its users. First mentioned during his State of the City Address on Jan. 11, Sanders then outlined the challenge in a press release the following day.
“The AT&T San Diego Apps Challenge is a fun way to engage our community in an effort that will put useful information at people’s fingertips,” Sanders said in the press release. “It fits right in with San Diego’s entrepreneurial, innovative spirit and we know our tech-savvy population will make it a huge success.”
Potential application uses range from public transportation routes and where to find a parking spot in the Gaslamp to real-time monitoring of energy consumption. Contestants will vie for one of 11 cash prizes totaling $50,000 with their app submission.
The contest is open to professional, amateur and student developers. Entries will be judged on creativity and originality, how well the app is executed and what impact it has on the quality of life for users.
A panel of industry experts will award prizes for winners in multiple categories including best overall; popular choice; best high school student application and an award for the City of San Diego Government Innovation, which rewards the application that makes local government most accessible to the public.
AT&T and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), along with other corporate sponsors, will provide the prize money. SDG&E recently launched a Green Button campaign to make real-time energy consumption information available to consumers.
“We’re moving away from the monthly bill cycle to giving the customer more control,” said Erin Coller, SDG&E communications manager. Coller said they are hopeful the winner in the Best Energy App category can create something that enhances people’s ability to make wise decisions on how to use and conserve energy. “We’re definitely excited to see what the developers come up with,” she said.
Ignacio De La Torre, regional vice president for external affairs for AT&T, said, “Applications are one of the primary reasons people buy Smartphones and tablets. That’s why we’re partnering with the City of San Diego and Mayor Sanders to support the development of great apps that improve the lives of San Diegans.”
De La Torre added, “We’re looking forward to seeing local developers turn their ideas into apps that our customers will love.”
Although many San Diego apps already exist, including those for touring Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo as well as an app to get the latest Chargers news, the possibilities for the contest are vast.
Michael Sacca, owner of the downtown web-development, design and marketing company Tiny Factory has developed successful applications in the past. Sacca, whose successful projects include Bilingual Child, an application geared towards helping one-to-three year olds learn basic nouns in Spanish, plans to enter the Challenge.
“This contest is nice because it’s San Diego-centric,” Sacca said, who has entered similar contests in the past. “I like that it’s centralized around San Diego. It gives a direction to it. It sounds like they’re gearing it towards students as well, which is fantastic.”
Sacca said although it varies, he might spend approximately 100 to 150 hours developing an application before it’s ready to be released into the market. He also said there are highly talented developers working around San Diego and one of the goals of Tiny Factory is to bring this community closer together.
Those without development know-how who have great ideas for apps are encouraged to participate by submitting their comments via the contest’s website, sdappschallenge.com.
Applications are required to use at least one data set from the city or its partner organizations. In addition to city of San Diego data, contestants will also have access to data from SDG&E, Metropolitan Transit System, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and SanGIS, a regional geographic and mapping database. Entries may also integrate information from other places.
Submissions are accepted until 5 p.m. on April 11. A panel of industry professionals will judge entries and public voting will be open April 25 to May 23. Winners will be announced June 13.