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Bloomberg Wants Web Design Ideas for

New York City will give developers some of its Web traffic data for a contest to create prototype redesigns of

Are you a Web developer or designer who has always wanted a taste of New York? If so, the Big Apple has an opportunity for you. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced “Reinvent NYC.Gov,” a contest to fully re-design NYC’s Web presence.

The “hackathon” encourages contestants to develop prototypes of New York City’s main government website, Entries will be judged on usability, experience, design, innovation versatility and viability at the conclusion of the two-day event. Working prototypes will then be on display to the public for feedback.

The event will take place during the weekend of July 30 and 31, at General Assembly, a co-working space and academic lecture hall for IT professionals in Manhattan.

The first step, however, is to apply. Applications can be found online at According to the contest rules, 50 to 75 finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges to take part in the hackathon. Participants don’t have to be New York City residents in order to apply, according to the contest rules.

Involving the community in New York City’s website redesign was a part of NYC’s “Road Map for the Digital City,” a strategy review published by Bloomberg’s office in May. In interviews with citizens for the strategy paper, city officials discovered some residents felt the website should be more intuitive and easier to navigate.

“Enhancing, New York City government’s website, is another way to make it easier, faster and more rewarding to get the information and services you need,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “The Reinvent hackathon is an opportunity to open up the redesign process to innovation and creativity from New York City’s incredibly talented design and development community.”

Participants selected for the hackathon will put together websites that represent their vision of what should look like. New York City government will provide designers with Web traffic analytics data to help contestants maximize the usability of their designs.  Popular tech powerhouses such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube will also make their application programming interfaces available during the contest.

The Reinvent NYC.Gov hackathon judges will include representatives from the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, NYC & Company, New York City Economic Development Corporation, Mayor Bloomberg’s office, and members of the city’s technology and startup community.

A statement announcing the Reinvent NYC.Gov challenge also revealed that prizes would be distributed to winners, but at press time, a call by Government Technology seeking clarification on what those prizes are had not been returned.

The “hackathon” trend has been gaining steam in major U.S. cities. Most of the contests so far have focused on application development. By moving into website design, New York City’s hackathon appears to be expanding the scope of these types of contests.