Knight Announces Winners for News Challenge on Data

    by Desiree Everts
    September 20, 2012

    The Knight Foundation today announced the winners of the second round of its News Challenge, a contest aimed at funding innovators in the media industry.

    In this round, which focused on data, Knight awarded six grants totaling $2.22 million. Knight announced earlier in the year that it was changing the rules of the News Challenge and offering three rounds instead of one competition per year. Because the contest is now three times per year, each cycle lasts 8 to 10 weeks, and winners receive a portion of a total of $5 million in funding.

    Here’s the full rundown on the award grantees. The winners will be blogging about their projects here on Idea Lab, so you’ll be able to learn more about them as they post updates.


    Award: $300,000
    Winners: Amplify Labs, Alicia Rouault, Prashant Singh, Matt Hampel
    Twitter: @golocaldata


    Summary: Whether tracking crime trends, cataloging real estate development or assessing parks and play spaces, communities gather millions of pieces of data each year. Such data are often collected haphazardly on paper forms or with hard-to-use digital tools, limiting their value. LocalData is a set of tools that helps community groups and city residents gather and organize information by designing simple surveys, seamlessly collecting it on paper or smartphone and exporting or visualizing it through an easy-to-use dashboard. Founded by Code for America fellows, the tools have already been tested in Detroit, where they helped document urban blight by tracking the condition of thousands of lots.


    New contributor tools for OpenStreetMap
    Award: $575,000
    Winners: Development Seed/Eric Gundersen
    Twitter: developmentseed, ericg, @mapbox

    Summary: OpenStreetMap, a community mapping project, is quickly becoming a leading
    source for open street-level data, with foursquare, Wikimedia and other major projects
    signing on as users. However, there is a significant learning curve to joining the growing
    contributor community. With Knight News Challenge funds, Development Seed will build
    a suite of easy-to-use tools allowing anyone to contribute data such as building locations, street names and points of interest. The team will promote the tools worldwide and help contribute to the growth of OpenStreetMap.

    Award: $450,000
    Winner: Joe Germuska, John Keefe, Ryan Pitts
    Twitter: JoeGermuska; jkeefe; @ryanpitts


    Joe Germuska

    Summary: Despite the high value of Census data, the U.S. Census Bureau’s tools for exploring the data are difficult to use. A group of news developers built Census.IRE.org for the 2010 Census to help journalists more easily access Census data. Following early positive feedback, the team will expand and simplify the tool, and add new data sets including the annual American Community Survey, which informs decisions on how more than $400 billion in government funding is distributed.

    Pop Up Archive
    Award: $300,000
    Winners: Bailey Smith and Anne Wootton
    Twitter: popuparchive, annewootton, @baileyspace


    Summary: Today, media is created with greater ease, and by more people, than ever before. But multimedia content — including interviews, pictures and more — cannot survive online unless it is organized. Pop Up Archive takes media from the shelf to the web — making content searchable, reusable and shareable, without requiring technical expertise or substantial resources from producers. A beta version was built around the needs of The Kitchen Sisters, Peabody award-winning journalists and independent producers who have collected stories of people’s lives for more than 30 years. Pop Up Archive will use News Challenge funds to further develop its platform and to do outreach to potential users.

    Open Elections
    Award: $200,000
    Winners: Derek Willis and Serdar Tumgoren
    Twitter: derekwillis; zstumgoren


    Derek Willis

    Summary: Elections are fundamental to democracy, yet the ability to easily analyze the results are out of reach for most journalists and civic hackers. No freely available, comprehensive source of official election results exists. Open Elections will create the first, with a standardized, linked set of certified election results for U.S. federal and statewide offices. The database will allow the people who work with election data to be able to get what they need, whether that’s a CSV file for stories and data analysis or a JSON usable for Web applications and interactive graphics. The project also will allow for linking election data to other critical data sets. The hope is that one day, journalists and researchers will be able much more easily to analyze elections in ways that account for campaign spending, demographic changes and legislative track records.

    Safecast Radiation & Air Quality
    Award: $400,000
    Winners: Safecast / Sean Bonner, Los Angeles
    Twitter: @safecast

    Summary: Safecast, a trusted provider of radiation data in post-quake Japan, is now expanding with challenge funding to create a real-time map of air quality in U.S. cities. A team of volunteers, scientists and developers quickly formed Safecast in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, when demand for radiation monitoring devices and data far surpassed the supply. The project has collected more than 4 million records and become the leading provider of radiation data. With News Challenge funding, Safecast will measure air quality in Los Angeles and expand to other U.S. cities.

    Disclosure: Knight Foundation Trustee Joi Ito is an officer of the Momoko Ito Foundation, which is receiving the funds on behalf of Safecast.

    Tagged: census.ire.org knight news challenge localdata open elections openstreetmap Pop Up Archive safecast winners

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