'Good Neighbor app' helps residents access social services

May 10, 2018

The winners of Buffalo’s first annual Civic Innovation Challenge was revealed Wednesday. The competition asked local tech-savvy minds to create an app that would benefit city residents using information from the city’s Open Data Portal.

Developers of the Good Neighbor app Clark Dever (middle) and Jordan Walbesser (left) receive $5000 from Mayor Byron Brown (right)
Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

First place went to the Good Neighbor mobile phone app. Co-Developer Clark Dever says the idea was to bring new members of the community up to speed on how they can be involved civically. It provides housing information, details on voter registration, and several other services.

“You move in to a new neighborhood and you’re wondering where your local police station is. You can click and it will load up a map of all the police stations in Buffalo,” said Dever. “Or you need to enroll your children in public schools. It takes you right to the information on how to do that.”

The app is published in multiple languages. Dever said he thinks transparency and citizen involvement are fundamental to the health of a democracy.

“They released many different data sets that covered all the categories that we wanted to include. We used that data that is published by the city and is updated daily to power the app. It will continue to update and be evergreen as the data continues to be updated by the city.”

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

The city partnered with AT&T who supplied a total of $8,000 dollars in prize money. Clark Dever and his partner Jordan Walbesser won a total of $5,000 for their work.

“This innovative platform with Buffalo open data with a public-private partnership encouraging technologists to create applications that help there citizenry really moves Buffalo forward as an innovative city,” Dever said.

Second-place went to the Buffalo Recycle-A-Bowl app. It will hold a 16-week contest and then playoff as residents boost their recycling rates by joining virtual teams. The Fire Hydrant Distance Check app finished in third. That utilizes GPS to make sure drivers have parked at least 15 feet away from any city fire hydrant.

The app will be available in the coming weeks only on the android app store.