From voting to volunteering, civic-minded citizens have been committed to improving our society since its inception. But far beyond joining town hall meetings and handing out flyers, emerging technology in the hands of brilliant developers provides us with new and exciting ways to bridge the gap between citizens, businesses and the government agencies that serve them.
To help accelerate that innovation, Accela hosted its 2014 Construct App Challenge, which called on our best civic-minded developers to build apps that help create more informed and productive communities. Participants were able to submit in two categories, New Civic Apps and Existing Civic Apps, and the top three apps in each category received prizes totaling $25,000; grand prize winners will also receive mentorship and, sales support, and received a chance to participate in the keynote session at Accela Engage.
This year’s winners are:
New Civic App Category
Grand Prize Winner: Inspector Buddy by Android Technologies, an affordable telepresence robot for property inspectors. The robot takes pictures and video that are automatically uploaded and attached to the main property inspection record. The remote-controlled robot can reach places humans cannot, facilitating more thorough property inspections and protecting the property inspector against potential injury.
Accela Technical Evangelist Mark Headd demonstrates Inspector Buddy by Android Technologies.
Second Place: Gov-Safe is the Survivor Assistance Form Editor (SAFE) that locates you, identifies your local disaster assistance center (DAC), allows you to begin filling out forms and tracks your status. When combined with the Accela Civic Platform, Gov-Safe also lets municipalities run reports, complete documents for their own government relief assistance, find specific survivor data, and develop asset management and prioritization of relief efforts.
Third Place: Construct for Google Glass provides a powerful gateway to inspections, permitting and code enforcement by allowing the use of voice commands with quick visual bursts of information. This proof of concept using Google Glass and the Accela Construct API focuses on usefulness for inspectors in the field, helping them retrieve all their inspections, route to a specific inspection, work with inspection checklists, result an inspection and pull record information related to inspections all from the lightweight headset.
Accela Chief Software Architect Kris Trujillo demonstrates Construct for Google Glass.
Existing Civic App Category
Grand Prize: VuSpex™ Smartphone Inspection Solutions is an application that integrates with Accela Land Management Civic Function to transform the building inspection process. The patent-pending application leverages mobile, live-video technology and Accela Permitting and Inspection Scheduling to reduce costs and improve efficiency for both the builder and the inspection agency. VuSpex connects the onsite builder to the building inspector desktop or tablet with a live audio and video stream so the inspector can view, annotate and document the inspection. VuSpex supports government agency green initiatives and saves time and money for building contractors, inspectors and their agencies.
Vuspex founder and CEO Dane Demicell demonstrates Smartphone Inspection Solutions, which integrates with Accela Land Management and is designed to transform the building inspection process.
Second Place: ePermitHub allows jurisdictions to publish permitting information and services to a common portal where citizens are presented information in a standardized and consumer-friendly interface, regardless of the jurisdiction. Jurisdictions manage content and service integration through a simple admin console and receive analytics on their electronic permitting process. Citizens, design professionals, contractors and other construction professionals will have their own permit dashboard, which allows for tracking and collaboration across agencies.
Third Place: MassKnowtify is a location-based platform for sharing public alerts and notifications that are timely, accurate and relevant. Because it functions as a mobile application and as a web-based service, it can be accessed anywhere on any device. MassKnowtify is tailored to a variety of local government agencies and services, such as police, fire, public works and transportation, to better connect them to citizens.
We hope that these incredible technologies provide inspiration for other great minds to engage with and improve their communities. Through technological innovations like these, we have the opportunity to build a better society from the ground up, from the smallest town to the biggest city— – a goal that’s truly worth aspiring to.