CASTRO VALLEY -- A pair of Castro Valley High School students have created an app that lets county residents find recreation sites, giving the two teenagers a second-place prize in the recent Alameda County Apps Challenge.
More than 100 programmers and designers came together at the first Alameda County Apps Challenge, using the county's data to create 24 software applications to benefit the public.
The app challenge, or hackathon, tapped into the county's 80 data sets, which include crime statistics, restaurant inspection reports and health care information, among others, said Tim Dupuis, county interim director of information technology. The all-day event took place Saturday at the Castro Valley Library.
The winner, BookIT, allows smartphone users to scan a book's bar code to see if it's available in any county library, and if so, to reserve it. The three professional developers -- Austin Chau, Jamie Kong and Darryl Kong -- won $3,000.
"We tried it on a few books in the libraries while requesting holds for them," Chau said.
Second place, and $1,500, went to Castro Valley High junior Stephen Ou and senior Caleb Kim for their app, Alameda County Parks & Recreation Finder, or ACPR Finder. It lets the user search to find parks in Alameda County that have playgrounds, hiking trails, tennis courts and other amenities.
Ou plans to further develop the app. "I want to build in some other features. I want to polish some things, add Yelp reviews and launch it on the public domain," he said.
Ou, a self-taught programmer, developed his first app in 2009. He he does not see the term "hack" as having a negative connotation. "I think the term has been misused sometimes," he said. "Hacking for some people means breaking into computers; for me, I do it for the benefit of others. I love solving problems through technology."
The third-place award of $500 went to SNAP Mapper, named for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The app, described as a Yelp for those on food stamps, lets users rate stores and lists types of food available and distance to the store.
Dupuis said he wasn't sure how many people would show up at the event, held in the suburbs on a sunny day during the busy holiday season.
"We chose Castro Valley Library because it's one of our high-tech libraries, but most hackathons are in urban areas such as Oakland and San Francisco. And three weeks ago, only a dozen people had signed up," he said.
Dupuis, who called the hackathon a success, wants to put on more. He said county officials are working with the developers of the apps to possibly make them available to the public.
"We've shown that public is very interested in our data, and they have put together interesting things of value to the community."
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.