Environmental Protection Agency

Phase One supported the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Apps for the Environment Challenge”, which included citizen engagement strategies and support throughout the competition. Assistance included early planning, launch, generating interest throughout the contest period, evaluation of entries, and the award ceremony and recognition of participants. The Apps for the Environment event was a call to software developers to find innovative ways to combine and deliver environmental data in new apps. It also encouraged engagement from a much broader audience by soliciting ideas from environmental experts and other non-developers. In the end, the Apps for the Environment challenge resulted in 38 apps submitted and over 100 ideas for environmental apps in the future. 

Why This Matters To You

Apps for the Environment is recognized as one of the most popular Federal competitions in Challenge.gov history, and serves as a standard forcommunityengagement. When the original citizen engagement plan was taking shape, the most important end result was to encourage the development community to help address the need for capable mobile apps for EPA and citizens wishing to access EPA data.

The competition helped galvanize the environmental and development communities in a more organized fashion. Other benefits and lessons learned continue to extend well past the competition. Environmental apps continue to be developed at green hack-a-thons across the country. Apps for the Environment intentionally fostered free tools widely available to all agencies.

In a true measure of outstanding success, even though no financial reward was offered for winning entries, the challenge generated positive coverage from news outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today, Mashable, O’Reilly Radar, Govfresh, Fedscoop, Sunlight Foundation, TechPresident and others. 

How We Helped

Phase One worked with EPA to coordinate activities across multiples mission organizations as well as support organization such as information technology, legal, acquisition, policy and the Administrator’s office. A well-developed citizen engagement strategy was critical to ensuring the success of the challenge. Other assistance included help to redesign the competition website and blog for a better participant experience.

Phase One developed frequent and targeted content for website, blog, tweets, and print materials. Webinars and hack-a-thons were coordinated and held jointly with EPA staff, stakeholders, industry representatives, environmental experts, and the software development communities.

Once it was realized that more than 120 other Federal challenges were coinciding with EPA’s, the imperative was to gain and keep the attention of participants, and attract them to contribute. As a result, Phase One organized a unique effort that took full advantage of EPA’s organizational strengths, mitigated potential obstacles, and above all, walked-the-walk through engagement beyond standard broadcast messaging.