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World Bank Announces Winners of First “Apps for Development” Competition - Jamaican Student Gets Honourable Mention

April 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2011. – An app that allows users to visualize development indicators using powerful charts and maps, a web-based tool to measure the impact of global events on progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, and an interactive app that lets users make their own comparisons of countries’ performance, were announced on April 14, 2011 as the top winners of the World Bank’s first-ever “Apps for Development” competition.

Jamaican David Bernard, a graduate student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, received an honourable mention for his submission, “MDG Chart Generator” - an online system that charts all the statistics in the World Bank's MDGs dataset and also explains the MDGs in simple language. Bernard, who is studying the Sociology of Development at UWI, collected his award and cash prize of US$2,000 at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC on April 14, 2011.

Last year, the World Bank issued a challenge to software developers from across the globe to take on some of the world’s most pressing development problems by creating digital apps using the Bank’s freely available data. An app is a piece of software designed to help the user perform singular or multiple related specific tasks. It helps to solve problems in the real world and can run on the Internet, computer, phone or other electronic device. The response to the Apps for Development contest was overwhelming, with 107 entries from 36 countries across six continents, and nearly a third from Africa.

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick said, “One of the reasons we threw open the doors to our data was that we recognized we don’t have a monopoly on innovation. These apps clearly demonstrate how the software development community can harness technology to analyze and tackle some of the world's long-standing problems.

It’s fantastic to see the creative approaches each of the finalists took, and it’s also great to see that the submissions came from six continents.”

The three winning apps all feature unique approaches to pressing development challenges:

  • First Prize Winner - StatPlanet World Bank (Australia): With this powerful app, you can visualize and compare country and regional performance over time. The user can select from among the 3000+ indicators covering virtually every dimension of economic, social, and human development, and can select the manner in which the data is displayed. This app allows anyone an easy interface to these indicators - even without Internet connectivity - via a desktop version of the app.
  • Second Prize Winner - Development Timelines (France): Development Timelines lets you put global development data into historical context and better understand how events such as war, education reforms, or economic booms and busts, affect progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Third Prize Winner - Yourtopia - Development beyond GDP (Germany): This interactive app allows you to sum up human development according to your own criteria and, through a short quiz, choose how important different dimensions of development are to you. You can then participate in constructing a multiple-dimension index of human development.

The winners also included a Popular Choice Award, determined by online voting by the public, which went to WORLD (Macedonia), an app that selects data at random to generate concise statements about progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.

Honorable Mentions were given to World Bank Widget (Finland), Get a Life! GAME (Netherlands), Know Your World (USA), Bebemama mobile app - Empowering mothers (Thailand), TreePet (Mexico), Economic Data Finder (UK), Indicators Lab (India), FACTCHA: Stop Spam, Advocate for the MDGs! (Kenya), MDG Chart Generator (Jamaica), and MDG Maps (Uganda).

A panel of expert judges, including technology gurus such as Kannan Pashupathy of Google, Ory Okolloh, co-founder of Ushahidi, and Craig Newmark of Craigslist, selected the winners. A total of $55,000 was awarded in cash prizes to competition winners.