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Four apps that rose to our Maps in Apps Challenge

GIS is an excellent tool for making sense of open data. At the recent Apps4Halifax contest, we sponsored the Maps in Apps Challenges for students and startups. They built apps using ArcGIS Online with Halifax’s open data. Take a closer look at the four winning apps.

Apps4Halifax, the first app development contest hosted by the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) as part of their Open Data Pilot project, proved to be a hit among Nova Scotians. The contest drew 256 ideas for apps and 38 app submissions from citizens. We were pleased to partner with HRM and sponsor the Maps in Apps Challenges for students and startups.  

We asked participants to use our ArcGIS Online cloud platform as well as Esri Developer Resources to build their apps or integrate ArcGIS Online content with at least one of Halifax’s open datasets. In addition to using Esri technology and content, the apps were judged on their accessibility to a broad range of users, usefulness to Halifax residents, as well as creativity, originality, uniqueness and innovation.

Of the 17 apps that were entered into the Maps in Apps Challenge, these four apps emerged as winners.

Maps in Apps Student Challenge Winners

Take a virtual tour of numerous historic sites around the Halifax downtown and waterfront area using Historic HaliTour. This Web app maps museums, forts, government buildings, ships, churches and other historically relevant locations around Halifax, along with facts and pictures of each site. Read more about this app in Canadian Geographic.

Historic HaliTour by Jeremy Tupper, Dalhousie University

Know It All is a Web app allows you to explore various city services and facilities including bus routes, bus shelters, bus terminals, accessible bus stops, community boundaries, polling districts, parks and garbage pickup schedules.

Know It All by Jerome Pelletier, Saint Mary’s University

HFX Next Bus is an Android app that helps you keep track of your favourite bus stops in Halifax. It tells you what time each bus will arrive at those stops. It also allows you to find bus stops in various ways and add them to your list, which you can save to your device and view at any time.

HFX Next Bus by Tyler Pachal and Jonathan Wong, Dalhousie University

Maps in Apps Startup Challenge Winner

Hike Halifax is an Android app that provides instant access to all the trails in Halifax on an interactive map. At a glance, you can view all nearby trails or request directions to a specific trail. The app has been optimized for both smartphones and tablets.

Hike Halifax by ASA Software

Each Student Challenge winner received a $2,000 cash prize, access to ArcGIS technology and training, and an opportunity to speak at a GIS conference. The Startup Challenge winner received a prize package that includes access to ArcGIS technology, training and mentoring with senior Esri Canada management.

Eric Melanson, Esri Canada’s director for the Atlantic Region, presented the prizes to the winners at the Appsalute award ceremony in Halifax on January 21, 2014. With him in this photo is Jeremy Tupper, Student Challenge winner for Historic HaliTour.

When asked how they found using ArcGIS Online as an app development platform, here’s what a few of our winners shared:

“ArcGIS Online was quite easy to work with,” said Jeremy Tupper. “It had great tools and templates to help speed up the creation of my Web maps, and even provided a platform for me to host and share them for free. I’ll definitely use it again for future Web maps or location-based applications.”

Jerome Pelletier, another winner of the Student Challenge remarked: “I found ArcGIS Online to be extremely functional and customizable. It provided abundant online resources including tutorials, samples and documentation. Also, the turnaround time on the support staff's responses to questions surprised me, they were quick and informative.”

To see the complete list of Apps4Halifax winners, visit

Are you looking to build open data apps? Geo-enable your app by using free developer resources at:

Which of the four apps above is your favourite and why? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

About the Author

Joy Chan is the Marketing Communications Manager for Esri Canada. She is passionate about sharing how people are telling their stories and engaging their communities using maps.

Profile Photo of Joy Chan