Unique Apps of the #Apps4Edmonton (an #OpenData) Competition

22 Sep 2010

Not every one of the 32 app submissions could win in the Apps4Edmonton competition, and I wanted to showcase a few notable entries to give Edmontonians and the Open Data movement an idea of what was entered and to give a personal “kudos” to my fellow participants.  A look at the winning apps is also included at the end.

The Apps4Edmonton Contest website: all the app submissions, including 
descriptions, can be found here (http://contest.apps4edmonton.ca/apps)

It sounded like the judges had a tough time deciding the winners, and it came down to splitting hairs at the end.  That’s not surprising to learn, given that a number of these entries were quite creative, useful, and it was clear that many had dozens, often hundreds of hours poured into the development of the applications.  I hope that the competition served as a springboard for the participants to either move forward with their application or use it as a knowledge base  for their next projects.

Notable Entries

It didn’t made sense to include a writeup/image of all 32 applications: I figure those who are interested can always run through every application on the contest website (link).   What’s included are ones, to me, that were unique and/or looked like it took a lot of effort:

(P.S., Mack Male put together a great visualization of the apps at his blog, something worth looking at!)

Edmonton FringeFest (link)

To me, Gregg and Angela Coppen’s application the most polished iPhone plus Web app entries, and I thought they were a strong contender for the Apps4Edmonton awards.  They had the largest number of votes when the competition closed, and had won the Fringe Festival prize (Edmonton Journal article).

On a technical note, you might be surprised to learn that the web app (www.fringefest.ca) was developed using the Drupal framework, an open source content management platform.  Gregg’s background in Drupal and his work on this app led to a presentation at DrupalCamp in Calgary with their case study: pretty neat!

ShareEdmonton (link)

One of the most comprehensive submissions, ShareEdmonton wasn’t borne from the Apps4Edmonton competition, but I believe it’s the sort of app that the competition was meant to inspire people to build towards.  ShareEdmonton was developed by Mack Male out of his passion for all things Edmonton, and it shows through the depth and comprehensive set of features.

ShareEdmonton does many things, but works best as  ”a local aggregation platform for Edmonton and area”.  I’ve often seen it used as an events aggregator for Edmonton, with RSS and iCal feeds available through its pages.  During the summer festival season in Edmonton, the iCal (calendar) feeds were really useful for people to find and participate in the festivals of our fair city.

It’s worth pointing out too that Mack has helped push for all things Open Data in Edmonton, like with GTFS transit information more than a year ago, and with the census data that made it much easier for apps like mine to use the information without having to scrape it through PDFs.

iFish Alberta (link)

One of the most unique application entries, I thought it was really well done for the niche crowd that it would serve.  Going by the video, the app looks quite polished and comprehensive, allowing people to not only search for fishing sites in Alberta, but also to see the lakes’ shapes, types of fish, and more!

The video above was brilliant, and I thought it’s a pretty professional, polished way for people to see the functionalities often embedded in more complex apps, and allows people like me who don’t have the mobile device (like an iPhone) to see what it could do.

MyYEG (link)

Scott Montgomerie’s app combined the housing price listings and various City of Edmonton open data catalog information to help individuals determine the value of nearby properties.  It also included an iPhone app (I wish I could comment on it, not having an iPhone), which was put together during Edmonton’s first Startup Weekend.

Edmonton School Finder (link)

This mashup helps parents find schools around their area, and quickly shows the performance metrics of the schools themselves.  I can see how parents, who are moving to or around the city, could try to find a place to stay that’s close to a higher-performing elementary, junior, or senior high school.

My Fringe (link)

One of the more interesting entries, My Fringe! made use of an existing iPhone game (at least I’m assuming this: Victor’s company was also responsible for the Pik’s Revenge) and further development to form an Apps4Edmonton entry.

MyStops (link)

If you follow the Edmonton tech scene, you’ve probably seen the MyStops app.  When downloaded on your iPhone or iPod Touch, users can simply and quickly find out what buses/trains are coming, among a number of features.  The app was demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 8, and has information for transit systems from the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, and even Perth, Australia!

I think it’s important to note that MyStops – as far as I can recall – was the first non-government app here in Edmonton that was built from open data.  That’s even before the Open Data Catalogue was opened in Edmonton, using the data Mack pushed for and got through TransitCamp Edmonton.

I suspect that  successful, completed initiatives like MyStops helped drive the call forward for the open data movement forward in Edmonton, and it was used, beyond an app, as an example and inspiration of what could be done when government releases open data.

Find-A-Home (link)

I think I’d be remiss not to include Find-a-Home on this list of apps: by using open data sets like locations of City Parks, Schools, Bus Stops, etc, it derives a score based on such factors to help rank a particular address you have in mind.  What’s quite interesting is that Find-a-Home won at the Make Web Not War Competition in Montreal in 4 categories, and while not an official winner at the Apps4Edmonton competition, it’s clear that the team was a winner with the open data that was released by the city.

Winning Apps

Given the existing coverage on the winning apps, I thought to do the writeups in reverse order:

The Way We Prosper: YEGLive.ca (link)

A growing startup that’s serving the local music scene, YEGLive.ca helps artists and venues connect with audiences and one another.  They’ve got, and are exploring further partnerships and models with their web + mobile application, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of what they do over the next year or so.

The Way We Live: Alertzy (link)

Alertzy pushes text alerts or e-mails for city services: for example, an Edmontonian in a suburb can sign up and have text/e-mail alerts sent to him/her the night before the garbage trucks come in to empty the garbage.  A pretty useful app that now has field-closure alerts in its arsenal, Alertzy was a deserving winner that I thought would’ve also won one of the top overall prizes.

The Way We Green: FindaDepot.ca (link)

FindaDepot is a really intriguing winner, and I think it’s a great example of how targeting specific competition categories can help application authors do well within competitions like #Apps4Edmonton.  The app itself is simple, clean, and easy to navigate, and I’m hoping people can make use of this to do more recycling.

The Way We Move + 3rd Place Overall: TXT.2.ETS (link)

It’s a bit trickier to show TXT.2.ETS given that it isn’t a web app, but it does bring something interesting to the table.  When you’re a a bus stop and you’re trying to figure out when the next bus is going to come, you text *or* tweet the stop number to the appropriate phone number/twitter handle and the bus schedules for the next few buses will be returned.

Besides for the twitter aspect, another thing that’s interesting to me was the API they ultimately exposed from their work with TXT.2.ETS, which was then used by another participant in the Apps4Edmonton competition!

The Way We Plan + 2nd Place Overall: Statistics Edmonton (link)

Statistics Edmonton was my entry into the competition, and I’m glad it worked out well.  Whether it’s for moving around or into the city, StatsYEG.com allows people to discover and share insights about our neighbourhoods.  It also allows business people and political campaigners to use information like demographics and income to help target their campaigns, and it also makes it easy for people to plot their own custom data from Excel onto the map.

1st Place: DinerInspect.ca (link)

DinerInspect won the competition, and for good reason.  The application was polished, data was unique, and it’s thoroughly useful for those of us who eat out often.  The app allows Edmontonians to see how the restaurants they want to eat (or have eaten) at fare through their food inspections.  There’s integration into looking at food establishments within neighbourhoods as well as a Streetview tab (to help people actually see which restaurant/establishment).


The Apps4Edmonton competition was the first one of its kind to finish in Canada, and it brought a variety of applications, ideas, and people together.  With competitions in Ottawa and other cities upcoming, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of applications get developed, and the impact that comes from them.  In the meantime, I’m looking forward to see how the applications from this competition move forward (or not) beyond the competition.

(P.S. As explained earlier, I didn’t think it would make sense to do summaries for every one of the 32 apps, but if you’re interested, they are available at http://contest.apps4edmonton.ca/apps)

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About ideaOwl

Tech Entrepreneur, MBTI INFJ, random idea generator in the evenings. Been in the military, developed financial risk rating software, and worked in Waterloo, Singapore, Boston.


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