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Mozilla, NSF Announce Open Innovation Contest's First Round Winners
editorial

Mozilla, NSF Announce Open Innovation Contest's First Round Winners

Great ideas are often shelved because they are too advanced for the existing technology. Even on the constantly improving internet, ideas that are too forward thinking cannot take off, partly becuse of slow network speeds in many parts of the world.

But that doesn't mean we should stop thinking about and preparing for a faster, more connected future. 

That was part of the reason for the Mozilla Foundation and the National Science Foundation (NSF) teaming up to launch the Mozilla Ignite challenge back in June. The open innovation initiative asked users to consider how to take advantage of “ultra-fast and deeply programmable new networks” and submit ideas for “apps from the future.” The apps are all meant to help improve individuals’ quality of life in some way, from enhancing public transportation to adopting clean energy. The challenge has four stages – a single brainstorming session, and, following that, three development rounds.

The initial ideation stage closed last month, and the winners were announced yesterday. Out of over 300 ideas submitted from across the world, eight were recognized as the most promising. An intriguing development (and perhaps a sign of things to come) was the use of crowdsourcing among the top ideas.

The grand prize winner, McGill University’s Jeremy Cooperstock, suggested an emergency response app that collected data in real time from a number of sources – including the crowd – to improve coordination and effectiveness of rescue workers.

Another app idea promised a richer educational environment through the use of collaborative learning tools and high-quality video streaming. Students would be able to “annotate and remix” their and their peers’ notes, effectively crowdsourcing class discussion and homework groups.

Still another idea proposed crowdsourcing video footage of an event, pooling various perspectives together to show a more complete picture. Such a tool could help us better understand how riots form, for example, or offer new angles at sporting events. (An app with a similar premise, Streamweaver, actually launched yesterday.)

While the first stage of the competition is now closed, there is plenty of time to participate in the three upcoming rounds. The next session begins on October 4th, and Mozilla will accept applications for the third and final round until late March. Developers can either help build one of the app ideas from the brainstorming round, or create a brand new app. If money is the main motivation for you and your team, there is still plenty to go around – only $15,000 was awarded over the brainstorming stage, which means $485,000 has yet to be claimed.

The Mozilla Ignite challenge is part of a larger initiative by the administration to “realize the potential of fast, open, next-generation networks.” As our regular readers know, this is not the White House’s first foray into open innovation. The President has previously launched the SAVE Awards and teamed up with ChallengePost to create the Challenge.gov platform.

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