Last night in Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio, newly-named NYC Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco, Economic Development Corporation Chief Kyle Kimball, and hundreds of civic-minded community members gathered to celebrate the capstone event of BigApps NYC. Now in its fifth year, the 2014 edition of BigApps NYC consisted of a series of workshops in the categories of Live, Work, Learn, and Play, held throughout the city over several months. New York City’s world-renowned open data initiative does more than just inspire, it produces impactful innovations from regular folks using data and technology to create meaningful solutions for their communities.
In a sign of Microsoft’s support for continued innovation in using data for good, I joined Mayor de Blasio on stage to present the award for best app in the Live category to Heat Seek NYC. The Heat Seek NYC team consists of seven forward-thinking doers, a number of whom developed their tech skills through the well-respected Flatiron School coding bootcamp. Combining these skills with insights into a real-world problem, the team produced a shining solution in a matter of months. The problem: too many New York City apartment buildings provide insufficient heat during cold winter days and nights, failing to meet their legal obligations to tenants and presenting a health risk for city residents. Heat Seek NYC devised and created mesh networks of low-cost, tamper-proof sensor boxes to relay real-time temperature data. This solution empowers residents with hard data on the temperature in their apartments and gives landlords the opportunity to quickly fix any heating outages. The Mayor was so impressed by the potential, that as soon as he learned about Heat Seek NYC he arranged a meeting with the Commissioner of the NYC Housing and Preservation Department.
Other winners announced by the Mayor included Coursekicker (walked away with first place in the Learn category), NYCHired (won in the Work category), and Explore NYC Parks (honored in the Play category).
Technology can empower people to change the world for the better. BigApps NYC is a great example of that. Civic innovation doesn’t come from some other people in some other place. It comes from us, right here. New York City has an incredible history of innovation and it has an exciting present, in which entrepreneurship, technology, and community are combining in powerful new ways.
The future? That’s up to us.
Tags: BigApps, BigApps NYC, civic innocation, Coursekicker, Explore NYC Parks, Flatiron School, Heat Seek NYC, John Paul Farmer, Kyle Kimball, Mayor de Blasio, Microsoft, Minerva Tantoco, NYC, NYCHired, open data, Technology