The annual ECCE App Challenge has recently completed its 7th iteration. Each year this competition provides us with the opportunity to see many new and interesting apps created and presented by teams joining from ECCE schools across the country. In this respect, the 2021 App Challenge was very similar to the previous six competitions. However, this year was also unique in several ways…

Visit the App Challenge webpage created on GitHub to view team profiles, videos and apps.

With students from participating ECCE schools in many different programs and with different academic schedules, the one-week development time limit is normally scheduled at different times over a 2-month period. Last year, the first 10 teams were gathered in-person, as usual, to work on their projects at the outset. However, halfway through the competition period students had to make the sudden transition to remote work, online-learning, and physical distancing. Many teams that were scheduled after this point couldn’t participate…yet 7 teams persisted after the COVID pandemic struck (including the team that ultimately won), and organized with their teammates remotely to complete projects for the App Challenge.

In contrast to last year, the App Challenge 2021 is the first to feature a lineup of teams with students who exclusively collaborated remotely with each other. While this still presents a variety of challenges, it is clear that after a full year of this mode of operation, the students were well-prepared. They made effective use of remote collaboration tools, such as video chat and online file sharing services, to successfully build new and innovative apps using the many capabilities of ArcGIS Online (and in a few cases, even ArcGIS Enterprise).

While the 2020 upheaval resulted in fewer teams overall participating in the App Challenge compared to previous years, the continued requirement for virtual collaboration this year did not seem to be an impediment. In fact, the 26 teams that completed projects this year sets a new record for the annual competition!

This year, the theme for the App Challenge was aligned with one of the UN Sustainable Development goals, namely Reducing Inequality. Each team was required to use Esri technology with open data sources to create applications that addressed issues relevant to this theme. You can review the apps that each of the 26 teams created this year by visiting their team profiles, watching the video presentations that they produced for their projects, and trying their apps live, all from the GitHub web page created for the App Challenge: We encourage you to take some time to meet the teams, and to look at what they were each able to accomplish in one short week of collaboration and coding. If you are on Twitter, follow the @EsriCanada_CE handle, and join us in congratulating them all on their collective success.

Judging is currently under way, and we look forward to announcing the winners for 2021 within a couple weeks!