Boris Mann

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BC Apps for Climate Action Announcement

I'll be at the press announcement tomorrow where the BC Apps for Climate Change contest is announced. From the invite:

Join Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap to see how the Province is challenging the software community to find new ways to tackle climate change using the world of online and mobile apps.

David Eaves has some more background information available.

Interestingly, Microsoft is also running an apps contest as part of their "For the Web" FTW coding competition. For that contest, the terms and conditions include requirements to host on some form of Windows or Azure hosting, but they are also trying to push some open government data.

I have hopes that the province contest uses some standard app contest platform (the one I've seen recently is ChallengePost), but somehow I doubt it.

I'll be posting updates as I get them. Not sure if I'll be able to ask questions, but leave comments if there is anything particular you're interested in and I'll see what info I can get.

Updates to start after 9:30am, Friday March 26th. Follow hashtag #bcapps4climatechange.

Here is the video I took of of the announcement:

BC Apps 4 Climate Action from Boris Mann on Vimeo.

The announcement was pretty bare bones. Apparently, Prime Minister Harper being on Youtube is a sign of the times, and so the province is jumping on this bandwagon.

The contest site is at and has all of the details. The contest "launched" today, but submissions don't start until April 19th.

The $40K in prizes translates to 5 categories with a top prize of only $3K. The comment from Minister Yap about software developers doing it for their "professional pride" underscores the lack of understanding here. In contrast, the Apps for Democracy (a contest for only one city, as opposed to an entire province), had a top prize of $16K.

I asked a question about the license of the data. Looking at the contest rules, it's not "open data", it's a 1 year license to use the data. Ouch, there's another big problem.

The data catalogue of "over 500 sets of data" appears to actually be up now at There is no indication of the license of the data on the site, and downloaded data doesn't include license info either.

There are a number of corporate sponsors (which I can't link to, they just rotate in the footer of the contest site) - Microsoft and SAP being the gold sponsors, Telus and being silver sponsors. I hadn't realized that David was an actual sponsor.

The actual rules for qualifying are very light - you have to use at least one of the provided datasets, and you have to "raise awareness of climate change and climate action issues by making the Data more accessible and understandable to the general public".

There seem to be a lot of details that still remain to be worked out. The license of the data itself is the big one for me - the whole point of open data is the license under which it is offered. On the other hand, you grant the Province a full license to your application, including the ability to "distribute" it, for an entire year.

Expect some more thoughts / links on this as I find out more information and provide feedback to the folks running this contest.