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create / 2014

Apps4LA- Transitioning Los Angeles into a Smart City

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Millennial Magazine: Apps4LA

Apps4LA is a program designed to bring the community together to create custom mobile apps for the residents of LA county.


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Apps4LA is a program designed to bring the community together to create custom mobile apps for the residents of LA county.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside
  • All incorporated cities within LA county, too.

What is your idea/project in more detail?

If Los Angeles is to become a Smart City by 2050, the community needs to take an active role in the transition. Our local government has adopted an open-data initiative for the first time in history, but without logical, efficient applications and skilled web developers the data is useless. Apps4LA seeks to bring a solution to this imbalance while creating a civic playbook for other cities to adopt.

Apps4LA is a mashup of a hackathon and a startup accelerator program. The event takes place in three stages: a one-day Ideafest, a 3 month mobile application build, and a media-driven launch party.

The funded apps will be FREE for public download and maintained for a year on the Apps4LA website.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Beginning with a one-day Ideafest on a local university campus, industry experts, city department officials, and web developers will compete in teams to develop pitch decks of mobile apps that are civic minded, sustainable, and viable. The Econony, Education, Connectivity, Arts/Culture, and Health will be the areas of focus. At the end of the day, the best 3-5 apps will be selected by a board of technical advisors and moved into the accelerator program.

A contracted mobile app development agency will build the applications over the next 3-4 months with the assistance of paid interns from the local university computer science departments. Weekly progress updates with technical advisors will take place to ensure the development teams maintain the production schedule.

When the apps are ready for use, a high-profile launch party with Ideafest participants, guests, dignitaries and press will take place to celebrate the project completion.

The success of Apps4LA will be accomplished with the help of the community. Beginning with the formation of an operations team, we will conduct research to identify industry experts that have a deep understanding of the flaws that exist within the infrastructure of our city. This includes private businesses, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and city departments.

The structure of the event, procurement of venue, selection of participants, and pre-event marketing will be conducted early in the process. The Ideafest will be coordinated and managed by the Apps4LA team with the help of volunteers. A preselected advisory board will determine the 3-5 mobile apps that have the best viability and will oversee their development. We will contract Dogtown Media, an app development creative agency to construct and manage the projects through beta.

When the mobile apps are ready for distribution, the operations team will host a launch party for the Ideafest participants, city officials, dignitaries, media, and invited guests.

All apps will be FREE to the public and available for download on both iOS and Android devices. Apps4LA will continue to market the apps to the public, and manage the backend maintenance.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?

Los Angeles has a sluggish economy due to the loss of several major industries. Developing a strong tech industry will enable our city to thrive in the future. Each app requires a team of mobile app developers, marketers, administrators, interns and advisors that will stimulate new business opportunities. According to a recent report from the Economist, “for every one tech job that is created, four more will follow.”

As the years progress, Los Angeles county will gain a collection of practical mobile apps that address the needs of its residents while becoming a leader in digital connectivity.

Whom will your project benefit?

Apps4LA will CREATE:

1.) jobs for local mobile app developers and marketing professionals 2.) paid internships for local college students 3.) useful civic apps for the residents of Los Angeles county.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

We have connected with and will be working with the following people and organizations…

City of LA, CIO, Peter Marx- 1st Innovations Officer for the city. Previously worked with Qualcomm and Mattel. Has great insights into digital applications and the inner workings of the city.

City of LA, Controller, Ron Galperin- Spearheading the LA open-data initiative and connecting Apps4LA with city department officials.

IBM “smart city” architect, Mark Dixon- A leader in the digitizing of cities, Mark will help structure the program and serve as a Tech Advisor.

Development Services Director of Palo Alto, Peter Pirnejad- Currently getting his doctorate in civic app development from USC, Price School of Public Policy. He is organizing a government/academic summit to coincide with Apps4LA.

Los Angeles User Experience Group- Crystal Ehrlich, UX Consultant, will assist with event management, publicity, and volunteers from the LAUX group (over 3000 members).

TechJobsLA- Noel Saw, software developer, organizes a bi-annual Tech Job Fair.

LAX Chamber of Commerce- Rachel Horning, will connect Apps4LA with local business owners for sponsorships and participation.

Internships.com, Yair Riemer- Sponsor and supplier of quality interns.

Dogtown Media- Marc Fischer, CEO, local mobile app developer and professor at Santa Monica college will be contracted to build the selected app projects.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in creative industries
  • Jobs per capita
  • Number of high-growth startups
  • Venture capital investment

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Apps4LA will CREATE many employment opportunities. We will be hiring an operations teams, contracting developers, hiring local interns, and potentially creating sustainable businesses with each app.

The Silicon Beach community will gain valuable publicity to bring tech interest to our city by becoming a leader in digital “smart cities”. High tech startups will see Los Angeles as the place to flourish.

Venture capital will flood our town creating economic prosperity from these opportunities.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

Mobile apps developed by Apps4LA must meet the following criteria to be considered for development.

1.) sustainable 2.) scalable 3.) appeal to the masses

Success of the event would be determined by level of participation, efficiency of the developed digital products, and the number of downloads from the community.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

As a co-organizer of Code for LA and a participant in #LA2050Listens Community Engagement at Hub LA I’ve learned that…

1.) everyone has ideas to make our city a better place 2.) great ideas are not being executed because of lack of funding and access to developer talent.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

We have enlisted our tech advisors, officials from the city, and app developer talent; and have corporate sponsorship interest from Silicon Beach, IBM Foundation, HP, and several independent VCs to help launch this program.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Barrier 1: Apps4LA is dependent upon seed funding. Solution: The $100,000.00 grant from LA2050 will provide a catalyst for corporate sponsors to invest in the life of civic apps.

Barrier 2: Meeting mobile app development deadlines. Solution: Successful web development is contingent upon setting timelines and maintaining a fluid workflow. To achieve a digital product that is ready for distribution, technical advisors must be present from concept to completion.

Selecting apps that are less complicated from the beginning, will produce a product within the given timeline and budgetary constraints. In other words, parameters for viable apps will be made at the selection process by the tech advisory board.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Community outreach