APProved: ‘Embark NYC’ wins MTA App Quest competition
by Lisa A. Fraser
Feb 10, 2012 | 1759 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In seeking out the best app to help MTA straphangers navigate the city, Embark NYC is tops. The multi-purpose navigation app won the grand prize in MTA App Quest, the MTA’s competition seeking the best app to help riders.

Embark NYC, built by Taylor Malloy and David Hodge of Embark, is a transit navigation app for Androids and Apple iOS devices, offering underground trip planning without a cell signal, step-by-step routing directions, service advisories, interactive maps, schedules and more.

Users can also bookmark their favorite stations. It was one of 42 apps that were submitted as part of the competition, which began last July.

The second prize was awarded to Free NYC Subway Locator by Jordan Hill of Flatiron Factory. The app, available for Apple iOS devices, automatically calculates the nearest subway entrances to your current location and lists them by direction, in order of proximity by feet.

The app also shows the individual station entrance locations, service alerts, and elevator and escalator outages, all using data provided by the MTA.

Third prize was awarded to Notify Me NYC by Emma Assin and Felipe Flores of the Cortelyou Collective. This app, for Android, notifies you if your subway, Metro-North or LIRR train is experiencing service problems, based on the times of day and days of week you ride.

A panel of nine expert judges evaluated all 42 apps in terms of quality of the idea, including creativity and originality, implementation of the idea (including design), and potential impact on MTA riders.

Powered and co-sponsored by ChallengePost, a web platform that enables government agencies, corporations, non-profits, and individuals to challenge the public to solve problems, the contest also featured two Popular Choice Awards that were determined based on 42 days of public voting.

The Popular Choice Award Grand Prize was awarded to the CityMaps app at CityMaps.com developed by Christopher Winfield, which combines real-time information about local businesses with subway information about how to reach them.

Popular Choice Award Second Prize was awarded to Right Track: Metro North by David Waring, which allows Android users to get quick access to Metro-North schedules, real-time status updates and track assignments.

MTA App Quest also offered a special Large Organization Award, presented to bigger corporations working on apps, to Slalom Consulting for NYC Station Finder, which allows iPhone users to find station entrances with an augmented reality station finder.

“They say competition brings out the best in people, and there’s no doubt that’s what happened in this contest,” said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. “In fact, when you think about this contest for a second, it’s pretty clear who the real winners are: all of us—the riding public.”

The competition’s honorable mentions include the Art by Subway NYC app by Matthew Vincent, a pocket reference guide for iPhone or iPod Touch users aimed at discovering the commissioned artworks within the subway, and NYC Travel, a guide to navigating the subway system on Windows Phone 7 platform.

OnBoard by Reed Martin, also made honorable mention with the app that serves as an on-bus dashboard, following along with the passenger and showing upcoming stops, estimated arrival times, where to transfer, as well as how long the transfer would take.
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