Apps4Norge was a competition organised jointly by IKT Norge (ICT Norway) and Difi, the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment. Prizes worth NOK 150,000 (€20,000) were on offer for apps and ideas utilising public data to benefit society.

The government did its bit by opening up a raft of new datasets. Location and weather data were the most utilised in the 50 ideas and 38 prototype apps submitted to the jury. The most interesting ideas combined multiple datasets, such as a map application for sailors combining location and weather data.

The majority of ideas were domestic focused with slim prospects for development outside of Norway, understandable given the remit. However, it does demonstrate the desire among Norwegians to utilise their public data rather than see it gathering dust in a database.

Three prizes were awarded in a ceremony in Oslo this week.

Individual Awardsamstemmer.net/
Samstemmer provides a visual representation of the goings on within the Norwegian Parliament. The prototype takes real-time information from the Paliamentary Data API and allows you to compare the voting records of politicians, among other things. It’s a simpler, cleaner looking version of the UK’s They Work For You.

Team AwardGeoKultur/
An augmented reality Android app to help explore Norway’s culture. The app gives visual access to Norvegian, a database of Norwegian cultural information. Designed to help you explore your local area or for use on hikes and road trips, it will automatically update your search when you move.

Idea Award – Snittet
Snittet will help high school students to explore the options they have for higher education. A search facility already exists in the University and College Admissions Service, but Snittet will improve on that by adding in historical trend data, alternative pathways and related job opportunities.

It remains to be seen whether any of the projects will become viable businesses. From speaking to one of the award winners, the main motivation seems to be helping “the greater good” rather than seeking profit. “I’m super happy” says Eirik Stavelin, the man behind the Samsteemer project.

“My intent for this competition was not winning, but to spread the URL so I can collect more feedback on how a system like this should look like, as I study computational journalism at the University of Bergen.”

“I have collected important insight from key parliamentary reporters and will document and consolidate this knowledge. This will be shared in the Github repo for this project. I’m short of time on my PhD, so I can’t spend too much time on coding any more, but if anyone wants to contribute I will update the system. The server cost is paid for the next year, so the prototype will stay online for anyone interested, coders, media and the curious rest!”

A former IT Project Manager, David Nikel now works as a technology writer in Norway. He helps Norwegian companies communicate in English and reports on the entrepreneurial scene for ArcticStartup.

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