BC Apps For Climate Change Contest to be Announced

Over the past few months I’ve been working with the BC Government around the idea of an “Apps for Climate Change.” The idea, initiated by the province, is to hold a development competition akin to the “Apps for Democracy” competition hosted by Washington DC but focused around climate change.

I talked a little bit about the upcoming competition during my O’Reilly Gov 2.0 International Online talk and referenced an article by Stephen Hui in the Georgia Straight which outlines some of the competitions details. (some people have been asking for that link).

In short, the province is assembling a fairly large data catalog focused around climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, along with a number of other data sets. I expect the contest to be announced at GLOBE 2010 (Mar 24-26) with a side announcement at OpenGovWest and hope to share more information soon. There will be prize money involved – but more importantly, an opportunity to create something that could get serious profile.

In addition to interested independent developers, one hope I have is that non-profits like Greenpeace, the David Suzuki foundation and others will reach out to developers in their volunteer/activist community and encourage them to use these data sets in ways that might help the public. I’m also hoping that some private sector actors may see ways to use this data to better serve their clients or save them, or their customers, money.

Either way, I hope the competition sparks the interest of Canadians across the country and generates some interesting applications that can help citizens act on the issue of climate change.

12 thoughts on “BC Apps For Climate Change Contest to be Announced

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  3. Nik Garkusha

    This is going to produce some awesome apps. I hope to see some blogs, developer outreach and hopefully support from the industry with resources, how-to's and example apps & code to get started. Love the fact this is helping address climate change, here's to some really creative, unexpected ways to use the data!

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  4. Brenton

    Will people develop apps that demonstrate how amazingly effective the carbon tax has been in decreasing carbon emissions? Actually, can someone point to something concrete the current government has done to reduce emissions in BC? Will the data show a full accounting of emissions from our forests, something the BC government is purposefully ignoring? Forgive my cynicism, but until the BC government does anything other than greenwashing, I will remain highly skeptical of any of their climate change initiatives.

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  5. Brenton

    From Sean Holman, over at Public Eye:http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004839….At the same time, the government is launching a parallel contest for civil servants who wish to design similar applications. But none of their work will be financed by taxpayers, with employees being required to use their own time, hardware and software. The following is a complete copy of that email.On March 26, 2010, the Climate Action Secretariat will launch a nation-wide contest designed to engage Canadian citizens in climate action awareness. Given access to government climate data sources ranging from GeoBC to Statistics Canada, the contest challenges developers to create mobile or web applications to communicate climate data in new and interesting ways, raising awareness of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Sponsors have contributed cash and prizes to be awarded in the fall of 2010.Because the BC Public Service is hosting the contest with support from sponsors, BC Public Service employees are not eligible to enter the public Apps for Climate Action contest. The BC Public Service would like to generate bright ideas, creativity, and innovation we know employees have to offer by running a parallel contest to engage employees in creating similar mobile and web applications related to climate change education. Participation would be fully voluntary, and employees who participate would create the applications using their own hardware and software, and on their own time.As a member of the BC Public Service, we would appreciate your input to help us shape this employee contest and determine the best way to recognize employee contest participants.Please take a few minutes to answer the following questions and send your responses to Karoline.Piercy@gov.bc.ca by 4:30pm on March 22, 2010.1. Would you participate in this contest? Why or why not?2. What information would you need or need access to in order to create a mobile/web app?3. Approximately how many hours would it take you to develop such a mobile or web application?4. What kind of incentive would motivate you to participate in this contest? If you won, how would you like your winning submission to be rewarded or recognized?5. Would you prefer to enter a contest submission on your own or work as part of a team?6. If your submission won, would you expect to: a. Give up the rights to your app to the BC Public Serviceb. Maintain the rights after a 12 month grace periodc. Maintain the rights to your appd. Other (please specify)If you have any questions about the public contest, please contact David Wrate, Future of Work, at david.wrate@gov.bc.ca

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  6. David Eaves

    Brenton – if you feel cynical then get a team together and write an app! It is an effort to enable citizens and communities to use data to make better choices.This post is about the app contest. I do think it is ironic though that you ask for concrete evidence on what the current government has done while in a sentence that followed the carbon tax – probably the most concrete initiative any government in the country has taken on climate change (and certainly more concrete than anything else that was on offer in the last election). I hardly think that carbon tax was a greenwash.

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  7. David Eaves

    I believe the internal contest is being run because, as the organization running the contest their own employees cannot compete and win it. So I suspect they are running something parallel but different internally. (you'd need to check with the province)You say employees will be “required” to use their own time. This is not quite true of course. No one, BC public servant or not, will be required to use their own time as no one is required to participate. This is true of the app competition I mention in my post – people will be developing and submitting apps on their own time. I think the intention with the internal piece is that there may end up being some public servants who want to hack together an app in their spare time – I think it is nice that the province is giving them a vehicle to do that and get recognized for it. If there aren't any – then no harm done.

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  8. Brenton

    First, I have no idea how, so I won't, but thanks for the impetus. I would be very interested in seeing how it's done, what technical abilities it would require, etc…Unless and until I see some evidence that the carbon tax has had any real effect, or see some of the monies collected going toward getting cars off the road or any environmental initiatives, I cannot see how you think it is doing anything to combat climate change. And as long as it's paired with gross expansion of our highways, massive subsidies to the gas and oil sector, and constant movement toward opening up our coast to tanker traffic, I can't see how anyone would take this government seriously when it comes to climate change and the environment. But hey, people had to pay 3 cents more for gas and got a tax rebate, that has to count for something, right? Right? I do agree that the last provincial election was almost entirely bereft of any real environmental agenda.

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  9. Kevin Jones

    Hey David,I just got back from the announcement. It really concerned me when they said the province is only planning on providing the data one year after the close of the competition. If I write an app, I don't want it to stop working after a year has gone by, and if that is the case, then the only incentive I would have to write an app would be the cash prize because nobody can positively affect climate change in one year. I really hope that the province does have a plan for what happens after that year is up and that this isn't just a PR announcement.

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  10. Kevin Jones

    Hey David,I just got back from the announcement. It really concerned me when they said the province is only planning on providing the data one year after the close of the competition. If I write an app, I don't want it to stop working after a year has gone by, and if that is the case, then the only incentive I would have to write an app would be the cash prize because nobody can positively affect climate change in one year. I really hope that the province does have a plan for what happens after that year is up and that this isn't just a PR announcement.

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