Western New Yorkers can turn to their smartphones for information on child care, Thruway conditions, rental properties, landlords and other topics, thanks to innovations that emerged from the 2014 AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge.

The winners of the two-month “virtual hackathon” were announced Dec. 4 by AT&T and its community partners.

The contest challenged local developers, entrepreneurs, designers and technologists to leverage open data to build smartphone apps that serve community needs. Thirty-three proposed apps were entered; according to AT&T the winners are already available to the public.

The grand prize, $10,000, was awarded to “WNY Family Connection,” created by Amherst residents Scott Falbo and Karl Newell. It’s an iPhone app enabling families to find information about facilities and services including schools, child care, recreational sites and more. People can see the demo video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YuT_aEkHW0.

WNY Family Connection is bound for the web and the Android app store next, Falbo said.

Second place, $5,000, was awarded to “NY Thruway Guide,” created by Sarah Marcy of Amherst, Dan Wheeler and Amber Marcy of Jersey City, N.J., and Shana Marcy of Boonville, all graduates of SUNY Fredonia or Buffalo State College. Their iPhone app provides information on traffic alerts, cameras, rest stops and Highway Advisory Radio messages throughout the state Thruway system. The demo video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELVOI_FcNQU.

Third place, $3,000, was awarded to “Rentegrity,” created by Eileen Ruberto and Sarah Quintal of Buffalo and Tim Nabzdyk of North Tonawanda. Theirs is a map-based mobile app that helps renters find information about properties and their owners in the suburban Buffalo area.

The app makes it easy to identify places of interest and learn if a landlord is local, whether there are recent 911 complaints to the unit or if it’s owned by a community housing group. Anyone can see the demo video at http://vimeo.com/111492026.

Winners were chosen by a panel of judges made up of local tech experts, community stakeholders and elected officials, who based their decisions on the apps’ potential impact on Western New York, execution and creativity or novelty.

“The quality of mobile apps created through the AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge demonstrates the vibrancy and talent of Western New York’s technology and entrepreneurial community,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president for AT&T. “(The initiative) demonstrates clear demand for programmers, both amateur and professional, to create mobile apps that help our communities connect, build businesses and streamline our daily lives.”

AT&T’s community partners in the competition included the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York at Fredonia, Z80 Labs, InfoTech Niagara, Launch NY, United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, d!g Buffalo and Hack Upstate.

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