The idea of ‘smart cities’ that use open data and networks of sensors to empower their citizens with more information than ever before has gained real momentum over the past couple of years. A new competition is looking to highlight the best applications that embrace this ethos.

The Open Cities App Challenge is part of the Open Cities project, which is exploring how crowdsourcing, open data, fiber to the home and open sensor networks can be used to enhance life in seven major European cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bologna, Helsinki, Paris and Rome.

As major cities around the world face increased populations, the people who run them need to increase efficiency, reduce their expenses and ensure a high quality of life for residents. Through this competition, developers are invited to submit their ‘smart city’ apps, with the opportunity to the opportunity to present at the Smart City Expo 2012, in Barcelona. The final winner will receive a prize of €3000.

We’ve followed the opening up of data around the world closely at The Next Web, and looked at some of the ways developers have used it. The Open Cities App Challenge should uncover some more excellent projects that aim to make our cities better paces to live. It’s looking for apps that use open data and solve a real problem in citizens’ every day urban life.

If you’re a developer who has built an app to enhance life in any of the participating cities, you have until 30 June to submit your entry. The jury that will evaluate the submissions includes Usman HaqueFrancesca BriaDr. Rufus Pollock, and some guy called Martin Bryant from The Next Web. I’m looking forward to sifting through the submissions later this year.

➤ Open Cities App Challenge

Image credit: Copyright Moyan Brenn