Gov’t App Contests Are Cool, But Are They Useful?
theodp writes “In 2008, Washington, DC, launched one of the hotter trends in public-sector technology: the ‘apps contest’. But even as more jurisdictions jump on the bandwagon, the contests are reportedly producing uneven results, and the city that started it all is jumping off the bandwagon. ‘I don’t think we’re going to be running any more Apps for Democracy competitions quite in that way,’ says Bryan Sivak, who became the District’s CTO in 2009. Sivak calls Apps for Democracy a ‘great idea’ for getting citizen software developers involved with government, but he also hints that the applications spun up by these contests tend to be more ‘cool’ than useful to the average city resident. ‘If you look at the applications developed in both of the contests we ran, and actually in many of the contests being run in other states and localities,’ Sivak says, ‘you get a lot of applications that are designed for smartphones, that are designed for devices that aren’t necessarily used by the large populations that might need to interact with these services on a regular basis.’ Sivak also cited maintenance of the new apps over the long term as a concern.”
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