Awards of the Apps4Finland competition, that furthers the use of open public data, were given on December 4th 2012 in a fully booked awards ceremony at the Helsinki City Hall. The competition, now organized for the fourth time, inspires citizens to develop new ways to utilize open data reserves of public administration. The competition is organized by Forum Virium Helsinki and The Finnish Association for Online Democracy.

This year, a total of 120 high-quality projects were entered in the competition. A total of 20,000 Euros worth of prizes were given. There were five categories in the competition: Application, Idea, Data, Visualization and Data Tutorial Category. In addition to these, a number of special prizes were given.

Tuija Aalto, chairman of the jury, notes with content:

“The high-quality projects that were entered in the competition are a demonstration of the benefits of investing in open data. The application developers again show us what can be accomplished with open data and how long-term efforts by various parties in opening data really matters. Among the entries submitted, there is material for international success.”

“Open data has again taken a step forward, but this is not enough.” Aalto expects the smart strategy being drafted in the administration to lead to significant new openings of data.

Minister of Housing and Communications Krista Kiuru, who spoke at the award ceremony, says:

“Open data is becoming part of the basic operations of state organizations. We have made a U-turn and instead of withholding information we have now embraced a new approach in which public sector data is actively offered for all to use. Apps4Finland is a pioneer in the efforts to open everyone’s eyes to see the benefits of open data. The awarded projects form a colorful spectrum of opportunities that open data offers us now and in the future.”

This year’s entries handled, amongst others, monitoring energy use and air quality, moving in the city and nature as well as local elections. 

BlindSquare revolutionizes the mobility of the visually impaired

The winner of the Application Category was Ilkka Pirttimaa’s mobile application BlindSquare which tells the user by voice guidance about the services available near-by and how to navigate to them. The application has the potential of revolutionizing the lives of millions of visually impaired people and it is an excellent example of innovative and beneficial use of open data sources. The potential of BlindSquare to succeed commercially on the global level seems promising. The service is already in use in more than 50 countries.

In the Application Category, awards were given to functioning applications utilizing open data reserves.

In this category, in addition to BlindSquare, also applications Reitit 2.0 and Karttapullautin (Map Generation) were awarded.

Making data utilization easier: air quality and energy maps as open data

This year, prizes for the best efforts to make open data available were awarded to both a private and a public actor. On the private side, the first prize was given to Mikko Heikkinen’s air quality as interface application. This app feeds potential new air quality related applications. On the public side, the first prize went to Espoo City for its extensive solar and geothermal energy maps.

Mobile phone screen color that changes according to air quality

First prize in the Visualization Category was given to Mikko Heikkinen’s application that changes the mobile phone screen color based on air quality and offers a simple, easy and efficient way to monitor air quality.

Geographic Information System instructions for laymen

Jukka Rahkonen’s Latuviitan paikkatieto-ohjeet (Latuviita GIS instructions) won first prize in the Data Tutorial Category. Latuviita site offers instructions for utilization of the geographic information system for laymen interested in GIS data. The purpose of the instructions is to help people using the GIS in facing the first problems and challenges.

Application for creating orienteering maps was the public’s favorite

In the competition, the public was given the opportunity to vote for its favorite. Jarkko Ryyppö’s Karttapullautin application had a landslide victory in the popular voting (418 votes); the app utilizes laser scanning material of the National Land Survey of Finland. With one click, the application allows the user to make orienteering maps suitable for practicing orienteering. Karttapullautin has been welcomed with enthusiasm in the orienteering circles in Finland as well as internationally.

Karttapullautin also won the competition’s Maps4Finland special prize. The NewBiz4Finland prize was given to Spatineo Directory service that offers a Google-like way to find any geographic information. Stats4Finland special prize was given to Valttikunnat game that helps to learn about the statistics of municipalities in a fun way. The first prize in the Idea Category went to Kalle Tiihonen’s idea about publishing real time information on energy consumption as open data.