Alameda County wants you to dig into its data -- sets of crime reports, transit boundaries, census figures and a host of other files open to the public -- and create tools that will put the information to good use.

"Got code?" is the motto of the Dec. 8 app challenge designed to harness technology and open government.

Non-techies, programmers, developers and designers and community advocates are all equally welcome.

They will team up at the Castro Valley Library to build mobile and web apps that benefit the community, whether that is improving civic engagement or promoting digital education.

Alameda County is already accepting ideas.

"I would like to report street lamp outages and pot holes from my smartphone and the system automatically detects my location using the GPS receiver in my smartphone," suggested one user on the county website.

Someone else wrote they wanted an app that shows fun things for families to do in Alameda County: "This may include special events happening in Alameda County Library, farmers market, Oakland Zoo, museums, etc. People can search by date and time and sort by proximity to their current location."

The county is offering a top prize of $3,000 for the most creative and practical application. The second-place prize is $1,500 and third place is $500.


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If projects use data, they should draw on sets from the county's data.acgov.org portal, which offers access to everything from crime reports to certified green businesses and voter precincts. Those that don't rely on data should focus on serving Alameda County residents.

Entries can be designed for the web; a personal computer; a mobile handheld device; SMS; or any software platform broadly available to the public.

The apps must be open source and free to the public.

Coding kicks off at 11:30 a.m. and ends 4:30 p.m. Dec. 8, when judging begins.

For more information, call 510.272.6510 or visit the website http://code.acgov.org. The Castro Valley Library is located at 3600 Norbridge Ave., Castro Valley.