Making city info accessible

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Have you ever wished you could use your cell phone as a compass to lead you to the nearest subway stop? Or as a tour guide to help you navigate the city’s parks and cultural institutions? Or as a card catalog to help you locate books at public libraries?

Now, thanks to a competition we launched last year, you can. More than 80 teams of software developers entered New York City’s inaugural Big Apps Competition. Their challenge was to use data sets from over 30 city government agencies to create user-friendly applications – or “apps” – for iPhones, Blackberries, or other hand-held devices. The city received 85 submissions that were judged by a panel of technology experts and venture capitalists.

Last week, we announced the 10 winning apps. Their creators will receive cash prizes totaling $20,000 – and a dinner with yours truly. All of the applications entered in the contest are now available for public use and can be accessed through the City’s website: www.nyc.gov.

Information technology has revolutionized the private sector, but the public sector is still catching up. The applications created as part of the Big Apps Competition will help increase government transparency and make city services even more accessible to residents and visitors.

During 2009, we achieved a record 25,128 job placements – often putting people in better-paying jobs than they had previously had.

To help us meet that goal, NYC Media, the city’s television station, has launched a new show called Job Hunt, which helps New Yorkers navigate today’s rapidly changing job market with tips on resume writing, interviewing, and a whole host of other subjects. It runs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NYC Life – that’s Channel 25 for most people in the city. It will continue to air in that timeslot for the next nine weeks and will be available ‘on demand’ at nyc.gov.