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Need to access services in Buffalo? There's an app for that

Looking for housing information in the City of Buffalo?

Need specifics on voter registration?

Want to know how to enroll kids into Buffalo Public Schools?

That data and more now can be accessed through the Good Neighbor mobile phone-based app developed by Clark Dever and Jordan Walbesser. The new app, which is published in multiple languages, is free and provides access to facts and details about services provided by Buffalo, Erie County, New York State and local nonprofit organizations.

Dever and Walbesser won the $5,000 grand prize on Tuesday in the city's first annual Civic Innovation Challenge-Powered by AT&T for their Good Neighbors app.

“The competition was a nice opportunity to be able to develop something that … can engage the community in a civic way but using open data that the city provides. So it’s very democratizing, that transparency in government," said Walbesser, an attorney with a background in computer engineering.

The idea for the Good Neighbor app came from the Open Data Buffalo portal, which can be accessed through the city’s website. The portal has a variety of data sets that covered all the categories that Dever and Walbesser wanted to include on their app, Dever said. The information on the Good Neighbors app will be updated daily as the city updates the Open Data Buffalo portal.

The Good Neighbors app will be available on the android app store in a couple of weeks, Dever said.

The Civic Innovation Challenge kicked off March 1, with local computer scientists, coders, software developers, designers and tech students invited to come up with a creative solution to address social or civic issues impacting Buffalo residents. The competition also was designed to spotlight the Open Data Buffalo portal and to familiarize the tech community, as well as the at-large community, about what the portal has to offer.

AT&T was a partner in the innovation challenge, donating $8,000 in prize money and helping to plan the competition.

Christopher McDermott, the second-place winner, won $2,000 for his Buffalo Recycle-A-Bowl app. It encourages residents to boost their recycling rates by joining a virtual neighborhood team that competes in a 16-week contest and postseason playoffs, culminating in a Recycle-A-Bowl champion.

The third-place winner was Fire Hydrant Distance Check app. Using cellphone GPS, drivers can make sure they have parked at least 15 feet away from any of the city’s 8,000 fire hydrants. Wesley Csendom won $1,000 for that.

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