Award-Winning Apps Bring Info to Underserved Communities

Nine applications took home a combined $100,000 from the FCC and Knight Foundation.

by / December 19, 2011

Nine Web and mobile applications won a combined $100,000 in prizes on Thursday, Dec. 15, in the Apps for Communities Challenge. The contest sought apps that delivered localized, actionable information to those least likely to be online in order to promote inclusion.

The top winning apps consisted of programs that provided bus times, helped the homeless and made finding jobs easier through a mobile phone. Others assisted individuals with disabilities, helped locate sources of fresh food and increased access to preschool and pediatric care in various communities.

The contest was jointly presented by the FCC and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on projects that promote engaged communities. Those participating in the contest were asked to take online information on topics such as education, health care and government services and make it more accessible to the public.

The grand prize winner was by Ryan Resella. The app provides bus riders with arrival times in multiple languages when a five-digit bus stop number is texted to the local transit agency. The second grand prize was given to Homeless SCC by Curtis Chang. The Web-based app tracks when a homeless agency makes a referral, to help increase efficiency.

Third place was given to Txt2wrk, an app that helps parolees, homeless and other job seekers apply for jobs online through a text-to-speech delivery of job postings to any mobile phone. The app was created by a team consisting of Elise Ackerman, Jonathan Chan, Dave Chiu, Lawson Kight, Roger Ly and Alex Tam.

“Technology is increasingly providing new opportunities to help strengthen our democracy,” said Damian Thorman, national program director with the Knight Foundation, in a statement. “We are excited by the fact these winners are using relevant information to entice more people to get online, and for using technology to solve everyday, local problems.”

To view all the apps submitted to the contest, including a full list of winners, visit the Apps for Communities Challenge website.