Voices of Digital Communities

What is the World's Coolest Broadband App?

These broadband apps are not headed to the top of Apple's App Store list. But they have a compensating advantage: they do real good in the world.

by / March 28, 2011

Angry Birds blast the impregnable fortress of the Pigs. Yawn.

Groupon lets you and your friends find the deals of the hour from local vendors. Snore.

MobiLuck lets you show your friends where you are and meet up. Save me.

To see the absolutely coolest broadband apps of the year, you need to be at Building the Broadband Economy 2011 in June in New York City.  On June 1, our audience will review and vote on seven broadband applications developed by the Top Seven Intelligent Communities and vote on their favorite.  The winner will receive an award during our June 3 Intelligent Community Awards ceremony.

Okay, so these broadband apps are not headed to the top of Apple's App Store list.  But they have a compensating advantage: they do real good in the world.  They won't turn your iPhone into a Garage Band, but they are one of the things that make these communities into the Top Seven of the Year.

I am returning from my site visit to Issy-les-Moulineaux, a surburb of Paris that is on our Top Seven list for the fourth time.  While there, I saw two contenders for Coolest App of the Year. The first is modest but marvelous.  An Issy start-up called Withings

("Why-Things") makes wellness products that connect to the Internet and use the iPhone and iPad to deliver really useful information about your health.  Their first product is a scale that measures your weight and body mass, connects to the Internet over your home WiFi hub, and posts the data to the company's servers.  Download their app, and you get a graph of your weight over time.  You can add as many people as you like to the account.  As the old saying goes, you manage what you can measure.  Automating the tracking of your weight makes it easier to manage.  Some customers go so far as to have the system tweet their weight to their weight-loss buddies, who cheer each other on.  Their second product is a home blood pressure cuff that does the same.  As somebody who has had to take his own blood pressure, record it and send readings to the doctor, I immediately saw the value.  You can purchase either product over the Internet today, and they have just signed a distribution deal with Apple Stores.

And the second?  It started life as a video game and has become a means to understand and interact with the urban landscape of the city as it continuously evolves.  For more, check back next week.

Robert Bell Co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum

Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research and content development activities. He is the author of ICF's pioneering study, Benchmarking the Intelligent Community, the annual Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year white papers and other research reports issued by the Forum, and of Broadband Economies: Creating the Community of the 21st Century. Mr. Bell has also authored articles in The Municipal Journal of Telecommunications Policy, IEDC Journal, Telecommunications, Asia-Pacific Satellite and Asian Communications; and has appeared in segments of ABC World News and The Discovery Channel. A frequent keynote speaker and moderator at municipal and telecom industry events, he has also led economic development missions and study tours to cities in Asia and the US.