Apps4Russia 2014 Contest. Open Data and “Comprehensibility” of Language, Money and Rules

    So it is no coincidence that for the fourth time, starting in 2011, we have been running the Apps4Russia application contest .
    We are a non-profit partnership "Information Culture" created just for the sake of this competition and engaged in the promotion of open data, crowdsourcing and the openness of the state as such.

    Short story

    In 2011, having seen how the competitions for developers such as Code4America, Apps4Berlin, Apps4Finland and many others emerge one after another in the world, I was obsessed with the idea that the contest would be the ideal way to promote the open data topic that I was working on at that time day. With a group of caring colleagues, we at our own expense held the first competition with one nomination, and the second time we began to attract sponsor money to the competition and go on an ever-increasing scale.

    And now, the last 3 years we have been conducting the competition on open data. Data published by the state, business, in the form of large public projects and even by ourselves.

    And this year, we decided to slightly change the “rules of the game” and the main emphasis of the competition is on understandable applications - that is, on those applications that will help citizens make their lives more transparent and understandable.

    Why clarity? Yes, because all the experience with the openness of the state, data and everything connected with it shows that it is useless if people do not feel any practical use in it. But the practical benefit is not the one that government agencies are trying to create by making mobile applications or web projects on their own, but those that developers can do themselves.


    In total we have 4 nominations.

    “Money loves an account”

    This nomination is for applications about understanding how finances are arranged . Finances in all forms - the prices of goods, the budget of a country or an individual region, an analysis of banks or credit cooperatives, how taxes are organized and where they go, government purchases and government contracts, and everything else.

    In general, everything is tied to money of public importance and, preferably, using open data.

    "Rules of the game"

    In this nomination, we will consider projects aimed at making understandable instructions, laws, government documents, terms of use, “small print texts” and everything else that sets us all requirements, obligations and restrictions.

    For example, projects that will show how our country is structured, what powers the deputies or ministers have will fall under this nomination. All projects that help in writing laws and, conversely, in extracting knowledge from the texts of laws and structuring them in an understandable way will definitely get here. Or if someone wants to make it clear how they are arranged and how to find the necessary public services. Or if someone simplifies and explains how to pay taxes or find subsidies.

    In other words, everything is formal and incomprehensible and that which is made simple and understandable. And always in the form of a technological solution.

    "Great and powerful"

    This nomination is about what has developed in the world in recent years and is just developing in Russia. This is called Plain Language , in Russian - " clear language " or " simple language ". You can read more about this in Wikipedia in the article of the same name en

    It would seem, where does the clarity of language and technology? The fact is that for a long time there are special checks for readability of texts ( readability tests) with the help of which they determine the complexity of the text for perception and the approximate age of the audience under which the text was written. Basically, these formulas were invented before the mass distribution of computers and contained fairly simple algorithms for counting them by the number of syllables per word, the number of words per sentence, and the like, how to measure the complexity of words and sentences.

    We adapted some of these formulas for the Russian language and they are accessible through the open API , and we also laid out a specially prepared training sample of texts in which there are many ready-made metrics, the level of education of the audience and the assessment of 5 algorithms for checking readability were determined.

    You can both use these materials and do something fundamentally different and your own.


    This is a special nomination from the general partner of Apps4Russia Yandex for projects using Yandex technologies and open data to create simple and convenient applications for users.

    In this nomination, as in others, it is important to concentrate on the topics of convenience and simplicity, understandability for the user. And Yandex technologies can be found in their special portal -, and many of them, for example, Tomita Parser, can help in other categories. For a nomination for language comprehensibility, he can help in identifying turns using clericalism.

    Dates & Prizes

    There will be cash prizes for each nomination, and applications will be accepted from September 15 to November 15, and on December 1 we will summarize.

    How to find out more?

    Throughout the competition there will be a series of notes on Habré in which I will write about examples of projects for each of the nominations and about where to get open data for ideas for each of them.

    And for those who already understand what he wants to do and only data is needed for this - write me (ibegtin) in PM or comments here. I will try to help with their search.

    Ivan Begtin
    Director of Information Culture NP

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