The province of Alberta announced an app development competition during the City of Edmonton’s second annual Open Data Day Hackathon at the Stanley Milner Library.

The competition is offering $70,000 in cash for four selected apps.

“We are encouraging developers across North America to use provincial data. They can combine it with data from any other source and develop apps that either have some sort of economic value towards them or that provide a social good,” Mark Diner explained.

“We have judges from across Alberta who will be judging it and what they will be looking for is innovation and bold ideas.”

The cash will be divided into best overall application, $30,000; best made in Alberta application, $30,000; best student app, $5,000 and the people’s choice, $5,000.

“We are interested in showing what Alberta is all about.

“We think we have some amazing developers in Alberta. Through this competition we would like to give them an opportunity to kind of show their stuff,” Diner added.

According to the City’s website the event is part of the International Open Data Hackathon designed to encourage open data policies by governments around the world.

They also said it gives local residents an opportunity to see how raw data can be used to create visualizations.

City spokesperson Jason Darrah explained that data sets were the details that governments collected and published in excel-style worksheets that were machine-readable “but by themselves don’t make a lot of sense to the average Edmontonian.

“The great thing about this is coders come together and turn it into information that people can use.”

Darrah said the City had over 200 data sets.

“These coders are coming together and looking at how they can mash that together or create a visualization that increases transparency of government but at the same time provides a tool that people can use every day.”

Trevor Prentice, who said he works in the tech industry, designed an app to help him determine the best Edmonton neighbourhood to buy a house.

“I used a whole bunch of the City data that was available to come up with this spreadsheet that ranks all 387 neighbourhoods by schools, crime, location, proximity to grocery stores, libraries, pools, whatever else. All of that data comes in and I calculate it in a way based on what I cared about most.”

The City encouraged people to tweet about the event using the hashtag #ODD2015.

With files from Nicole Weisberg