At a December 15 presentation in Menlo Park, California, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Knight Foundation National Program Director Damian Thorman awarded a total of $100,000 in prizes to the winners of Apps for Communities Challenge. These entrants created unique apps that "deliver personalized, actionable information to people least likely to be online."
Apps for Communities Challenge is part of an effort by the FCC and the Knight Foundation to bridge the digital divide and to promote broadband adoption. According to the FCC, "The contest sought to take advantage of the local, public information coming online - on topics from education to health care, child care, government services and jobs - and make it easily accessible to the public." The idea was then to create content, apps and services to improve access.
Genachowski noted that, "The costs of digital exclusion are high and getting higher. Five years ago, if you didn't have broadband you'd probably be okay. But today its not like that."
The three grand prize winners were:
* Yakb.us, which provides bus riders with arrival times - in English and Spanish - when a five-digit bus stop number displayed onsite is texted to the local transit agency.
* Homeless SCC, connecting homeless people and families with services according to their specific needs and eligibility.
* Txt2wrk, which helps parolees, the homeless and other job seekers compete on a more level playing field by allowing them to apply for jobs online through a text-to-speech delivery of job postings on any mobile phone.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Knight Foundation announce winners of the first-of-its kind 'Apps for Communities' challenge. (FCC press release, Dec. 15, 2011)