Apps for Metro Chicago Illinois Overview and Talking Points


Competition Overview

Apps for Metro Chicago is bringing together governments, not-for-profits, foundations, businesses and technology developers to build mobile and web applications for Illinois, all with the goal of producing the best apps contest the nation has ever seen. Open data initiatives across the city, county and state have made unprecedented amounts of data public. With this new open government access, app developers now have data foundation to build innovative new apps that help the public better navigate and experience Illinois.


Competition description

The Apps for Metro Chicago competition is setting a new bar for civic app contests nationwide by combining some new ideas with one of the largest collections of open municipal data ever brought together.

In other civic apps competitions many citizens, civic organizations and businesses have been unable to compete due to their lack of app building experience. In the Apps for Metro Chicago competition, the Metro Chicago Information Center will serve as the hub connecting residents who have ideas for applications to developers with the skills to build them. In addition, MCIC will provide technical assistance to developers who have questions about the data sets.

The competition has three rounds: Transportation, Community and Grand Challenge. The first two competitions in Apps for Metro Chicago will each be oriented around a theme, first 'Transportation' and then 'Community'. To provide incentive for applicants to work with Chicago residents, judging priority will be given to ‘Community’ app submissions that include a Letter of Support or a partnership with an organization or business with offices inside of the City of Chicago. The judges will also reward applicants who include a business plan outlining their app’s sustainability over the long term

Applications that place in the 'Transportation' competition will not be eligible for the 'Community' round, but will have an automatic bid to the concluding 'Grand Challenge'. This structure provides applicants with multiple opportunities to win, winning applications with an incentive to keep working on their projects, and encourages cross-sector collaboration.


 Talking Points

  • Cities are meant to be open places that belong to the people who live in them, and data about those cities should follow the same rules. It is incumbent on cities to provide easy access to public data so that citizens, businesses and civic groups can use it to make people’s lives better.
  • The Apps for Metro Chicago competition is an effort to use that data to improve people’s lives in key and important areas.
  • By empowering residents to access large amounts of data in easy to use, accessible formats, the City of Chicago and its partners have created an environment in which residents can understand the information that is out there and find creative ways to use it to better the area. In this sense, residents are partners with governments in creating a new dynamic for civic improvement.
  • Chicago’s competition is setting a new bar for civic app contests by:
    • Being the first to actively build connections between developers and the business and non-profit community.
    • Providing real time technical assistance to developers with questions about the data.
    • Supporting the long-term viability of the apps.
  • This competition is a way to use the resources of government and the energy of residents to create solutions that will work for everyone.



  • Apps must focus on the Chicago Metro Area.
  • Both web and mobile applications are eligible to win prizes.
  • Full rules available on competition website


Deadlines for App Submissions:

Round One (Transportation Theme): August 15th

Round Two (Community Theme): September 30th

Round Three (Grand Challenge): December 2nd