The Apps for Communities Challenge, a contest to develop software applications that deliver useful public information to underserved communities, was announced during a forum on broadband adoption on Thursday, April 14, at the Stride Center in Oakland, Calif.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski revealed that some of the app ideas that were brainstormed during the contest’s planning process included an app that can connect people to urgent care facilities via public transportation, and an app that can deliver seasonal and contract job postings by text message.

The nationwide contest features $100,000 in prizes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which focuses on projects that foster informed and engaged communities. The FCC is co-sponsoring the challenge.

Contestants are charged with taking online information ranging from education, health care, child care, government services and jobs, and making it easily accessible in the form of apps, content and services to citizens who are less likely to use the Internet.

Genachowski made the announcement, flanked by Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, and Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose. The contest announcement was a part of a regional event being held called Bridging the Digital Divide Forum: Successes and Opportunities, which examined the opportunities and challenges of increasing the relevance of broadband.

“This challenge uses the power of broadband and the ingenuity of creative thinkers across America to help advance our country’s broadband agenda,” said Genachowski. “I expect we’ll see great new apps that use public data to help people all over the country. We encourage states, cities and townships to open their public databases to developers.”

More information on the challenge, including how to register, is available online  .

“Contests can promote innovation in all sorts of unexpected ways,” added Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. “This particular challenge is designed to encourage and reward people for solving local problems through technology.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1999, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.