Vencore and IBM, in coordination with APCO and USGIF, are conducting a First Responder Application Challenge to develop predictive analytic and mobile solutions that can significantly improve the operational capability of first responders. First responders will work directly with vendors and universities to build software applications that use a variety of real-time remote sensing data, field data, GIS tools and other content to create online applications for desktop and mobile devices. Solutions will be created using an operational application ecosystem which will allow first responders and solution providers to work together in a virtual environment designed specifically for delivery of effective, tailored first responder applications. The challenge will result in the award of prizes and one or more selected applications for operational evaluation by the first responder community at no cost.


Prize Winners

  • Intrado, Inc. Grand Prize Winner for “Highest Overall Score”
  • iHealth Ventures, LLC for “Best App using IBM Bluemix Services”
  • LanguageMAPS, Inc. and Hitech Systems, Inc. for “Best App for First Responders”
  • VTS, Inc. for “Best App using the IDEAS Application Ecosystem”

App Submissions

The challenge has concluded. Thank you for your interest.


The challenge will begin on November 16, 2015 and end on December 14, 2015.  Awards will be announced on or about December 18, 2015. Registration deadline is December 11, 2015 at noon EST.


Application Ecosystem description:

Vencore has developed an application ecosystem using our Intelligent Data Exploitation and Analytics System (IDEAS) which can be found at Using the latest technology available from IBM, IDEAS delivers predictive analytic solutions, mobile applications, development services and collaboration services to enable first responders to define needs and work directly with providers to build and deploy tailored solutions that meet those needs.


First responders can benefit from this challenge by receiving solutions that meet operational needs and by helping define the way in which an operational application ecosystem can best be designed and used to meet their needs. Solution providers can benefit by working directly with first responders to understand their needs and provide solutions to them using the latest development and delivery methods available in the market.



This challenge is only open to residents of the United States and its Territories. Participants must register. See Challenge Terms for more details.

To Register, you must be:

  • An individual who is at least 18 years of age as of the time of entry and resides in the United States or its Territories:
  • An individual in one of the following categories:
    • Application developer : We need application developers who are able to create ‘out of the box’ solutions for the first responder’s unmet needs
    • University student : Any university student who is interested in contributing their skills and analytics in finding solutions that will benefit first responders
  • Teams of eligible individuals (there is no limit on the number of eligible individuals that may be included in a team)
  • Organizations (including universities, corporations, not-for-profit corporations and other nonprofit organizations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities) that exist and have been organized or incorporated at the time of entry and are domiciled in the United States or its Territories.

Note that IBM and Vencore employees are not eligible for any prize.


First Responders:

First responders are encouraged to participate in the challenge by collaborating virtually with providers or submitting an unmet need of their own. Selected first responders that submit an unmet need that is used by a provider for the challenge, or that actively participate in the collaboration forum, will receive a nominal gift (under $25) from the Sponsor. Click HERE to participate.


Content Providers

Content providers are welcome to join TomTom Traffic, exactEarth Provided by Harris Corporation and others to provide unique content to solution providers.  Interested providers can register and provide an API description document and API keys for use during the Challenge period.  Contact for more information.


Unmet Needs Categories

The following categories of first responder needs are provided to help providers prepare to address the unmet needs that will be included in the challenge.  On day one of the challenge, Vencore will publish the specific needs in the IDEAS Forum.  Providers will have eight days to virtually collaborate with each other and with First Responders to deliver a solution. Specific instructions will be provided upon Registration.




  1. Improving 9-1-1 services
    1. Trusted Caller 9-1-1
    2. Reducing duplicative 9-1-1 calls
    3. App and web-based 9-1-1 solutions
    4. Texting 9-1-1
  2. Tracking
    1. GIS integrated GPS Responders Tracking
    2. GIS layers using USGS topo maps
    3. Reliable Authoritative Mapping – Locate Emergency Call
    4. Indoor Tracking (New)
  3. First Responder Assistant Apps
    1. Safer driving using routing, biometrics and alerts
    2. Group Telecommunicator Collaboration
    3. Audible Public Alerts
    4. Assist FR Notify Participation Social and Public Services (New)
  4. Easier Access to Information
    1. Damaged  Vehicle environment safety
    2. Telematics for First Responders
    3. Pattern Recognition for Search and Rescue
    4. Knowledge Management (New)
    5. Information to ER (New)
  5. Preparation and Prevention of Fires
    1. Situational awareness for wildland firefighting
    2. Targeted fire prevention planning
    3. Fire Rescue (New)
    4. Forest Registry (New)
  6. Inclement Weather (New)
    1. Road conditions, weather activity, accessibility, events, and transportation (New)


Challenge Requirements for Prize Eligibility:

Unmet Need: Teams or individuals must create a solution that improves the problem for a specific unmet need. Providers must select at least one unmet need and develop a solution related to the need.

Functionality: The application must be capable of being successfully installed and run on the IDEAS platform and/or a mobile device, and must function as described in the solution description. Installation requirements are provided during the Challenge Registration process.

Other Materials: In addition to a successfully submitted app, each team must submit a brief written description of how the application functions and the types of services used. To view a description example, please visit the IDEAS catalog exactEarth Shipping Awareness page.


New & Existing Applications: Applications must be newly created by the provider after the start of the Application Challenge Submission Period or, if the Application existed prior to the start of the Application Challenge Submission Period, the provider must have improved the solution to tailor to the unmet need, and integrated IDEAS/Bluemix services after the start of the Application Challenge Submission Period.

See Challenge Terms for more details.



How the Challenge Works:

The application challenge will be facilitated by Vencore and will be conducted virtually by all participants using the IDEAS Application Ecosystem, including IBM’s Bluemix application development services, and will include first responders, universities and industry.  Participants will have four weeks beginning Monday, November 16, 2015 to complete the challenge and submit an application to Vencore by COB Monday, December 14, 2015.  Participants who register before noon EST on Friday, December 11, 2015 (registration deadline) will receive an email with step-by-step instructions to:

  1. Access the IDEAS Collaboration Forum to choose one or more unmet needs
  2. Collaborate with first responders and other providers to create your team
  3. Design one or more solutions that satisfy the unmet needs
  4. Develop the solution following the criteria for application development
  5. Build the App using the IDEAS Application Ecosystem Services
  6. Deliver Solutions to Vencore for Integration into IDEAS

Prizes will be awarded on or about Friday, December 18, 2015.

Before the official start date of the challenge, participants can:

  1. Check out Bluemix tutorials, documentation and samples.
  2. Review the IDEAS Content Services that are available during the challenge.
  3. Review the IDEAS requirements needed for the solution to be compatible with the IDEAS ecosystem
  4. Register for the challenge and review the Step-by-Step instructions that will be emailed to all registered participants.


Meet the Judges:

Mark Reddish: Senior Counsel and Manager of Government Relations, APCO International
David Jenkins: Executive Architect, US Federal CTO Strategy & Technology Team, IBM
Max Baber, Ph.D., FBCart.S: USGIF Director of Academic Programs
Barry Barlow: SVP and Chief Technology Officer, Vencore


Judging Criteria:

Quality of Idea
Includes creativity, originality, and “wow” factor of the idea.

Implementation of Idea
Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer and the extent to which IDEAS and Bluemix service(s) were utilized.

Potential Impact
Includes the relevance and potential impact of the application on the intended unmet need.

Completeness of the Solution
Includes the extent to which the solution is relevant, complete, and functioning.

Requirements Met
Includes how well the challenge requirements were met


Winner Judging Criteria
Grand Prize $5,000 cash Awarded based on overall score regardless of chosen Unmet need
Best App using IBM Bluemix Services: up to 4 Go-Pro Hero Action Cameras Awarded by IBM to the highest scoring application for their use of the Bluemix services
Best App for First Responders: up to 4 Go-Pro Hero Action Cameras Awarded by APCO to the highest scoring application that best met the need of the first responder
Best App using the IDEAS Application Ecosystem: up to 4 Go-Pro Hero Action Cameras Awarded by Vencore to the highest scoring provider
Best App that includes university participation: 4 registrations to GEOINT Foreword science & technology forum at 2016 GEOINT Symposium
Awarded by USGIF to the best solution which includes a university



Bluemix: Click HERE to go to the tutorials, documentation, and samples on how to use Bluemix

IDEAS Forum: Go to the IDEAS Forum page to discuss the challenge and ask questions.

Terms and Conditions: Please click the Register Here link below and read the terms and conditions of the application challenge. Participants must agree to all terms and conditions upon registration.