The World Bank Bets on Apps: Winners in Big Data Development

More than 10,000 votes were casted. 100 young developers. Raw ideas. One winner—and it came from the Land Down Under. The World Bank’s “Apps for Development” competition concluded today, the victors celebrating with a bang. Australia’s StatPlanet World Bank, crafted by the 30-year old Frank van Capelle, an extremely powerful tool in harnessing real-time country and regional performance wowed the selected panel of judges like Kannan Pashupathy of Google and Creaiglist’s Craig Newmark. France’s Development Timelines and Germany’s Yourtopia – Development beyond GDP came in second and third places respectively.

In an official statement moments before the big announcement, World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick explains the ideals behind this contest. He 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 World Bank launched this contest last September to challenge software developers in coming up with spectacular concepts to take on some of the world’s most pressing development dilemmas, through creating digital apps. Entries from over 36 countries came in across all continents, with the 3rd most number of entries coming from Africa.

Experts still believe that there are many great fresh talents that are still undiscovered. This is evident with numerous apps developers contest in the past months. Perhaps, one of the most celebrated competitions of this nature is the “BigApps” that took place in New York City. Roadify.com, an iPhone app that feeds real-time transit data to both drivers and commuters, bagged the grand prize and thousands of dollars.

Other contests include “Young Developer App Competition”, supported by the Bermuda Government and BlackBerry and UN’s “Green App” awards. An upcoming event that is expected to lure developers from all corners of the world is Hack Night and Developer Contest hosted by Alibris on the 29th of April.

With vast of opportunities lying along the field of Big Data and the cloud, more and more developers will soon rise and be in the spotlight, gain recognition, and change the tech world that we know today. Supporters with causes like the World Bank and United Nations are out there seeking for young minds that can create apps that will genuinely support their advocacy towards putting an end to hunger, pushing for universal educations, promoting gender equality, child health and global partnerships.