Knight Data Challenge Winners Announced

SAN FRANCISCO — Six media innovation ventures that make it easier to access and use information on local communities, air quality, elections, demographics and more received a total of $2.22 million today as winners of the Knight News Challenge: Data, announced at the 2012 Online News Association Conference.


    Providing journalists and the public with a simpler way to access Census data, so they can spend less time managing the information and more time analyzing it and finding trends. The project is led by a senior developer from the Chicago Tribune in partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).

    Winners: Joe Germuska, John Keefe, Ryan Pitts,
    Award: $450,000
  • LocalData

    Providing a set of tools that communities can use to collect data on paper or via a smartphone app, then export or visualize the data via an easy-to-use dashboard. The city of Detroit has used the tools, created by Code for America fellows, to track urban blight.

    Winners: Amplify Labs, Alicia Rouault, Prashant Singh and Matt Hampel
    Award: $300,000
  • New contributor tools for OpenStreetMap

    Launching tools that make it easier for communities to contribute to OpenStreetMap, the community-mapping project used by millions via foursquare and Wikimedia and becoming a leading source for open, street-level data. DevelopmentSeed will create the tools.

    Winners: Development Seed Inc. / Eric Gunderson
    Award: $575,000
  • Open Elections

    Creating the first freely available, comprehensive source of U.S. election results, allowing journalists and researchers to analyze trends that account for campaign spending, demographic changes, legislative track records and more. Senior developers from The Washington Post and The New York Times lead the project.

    Winners: Derek Willis and Serdar Tumgoren
    Award: $200,000
  • Pop Up Archive

    Taking multimedia content – including audio, pictures and more – from the shelf to the Web, so that it can be searchable, reusable and shareable. Founded by University of California grad students, the project beta-tested by helping archive the collection of the independent, Peabody-winning production team the Kitchen Sisters.

    Winners: Bailey Smith and Anne Wootton
    Award: $300,000
  • SafeCast

    Creating a community of citizen and professional scientists to measure and share data on air quality in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities. The air quality effort is inspired by Safecast’s success in providing radiation data following Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster.

    Winners: Amplify Labs, Alicia Rouault, Prashant Singh and Matt Hampel
    Award: $300,000

The News Challenge is taking place three times this year, in shorter, more focused rounds that better mirror the pace of innovation. Winners of the first challenge, on networks, were announced in June. The third challenge, on mobile, recently closed and winners will be presented in January.

Over the challenge’s six years, Knight Foundation has reviewed more than 14,400 applications and funded 86 projects for more than $29 million. Winners include leading Internet entrepreneurs, emerging media innovators and traditional newsrooms. Their projects have been adopted by large media organizations and are having an impact.

DocumentCloud, which helps journalists analyze, annotate and publish original-source documents, is being used by more than 650 news organizations nationwide, and its open source code is the eighth and 30th most-watched on GitHub, a recent report found. Meanwhile, hNews, a project by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and the Media Standards Trust, has been integrated into more than 1,200 news sites. It allows readers to see the source of information in online articles.

Find out more about the winning projects during the Web stream of the Lighting Round presentation at ONA12, 4 p.m. EDT / 1 p.m. PDT.

The data challenge, one of three launched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation this year, accelerates projects with funding and advice from Knight’s network of media innovators. For the data round, Knight Foundation sought ideas that make the large amounts of information produced each day available, understandable and actionable.

“The winning projects go well beyond collecting data to unlocking its value in simple and powerful ways, so journalists can analyze numbers and trends, and communities can make decisions on issues important to them,” said Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation.

The winners of the challenge will present their projects via live Web stream at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT Saturday, Sept. 22, from the Online News Association conference in San Francisco.

Knight Foundation, the nation’s leading funder of journalism and media innovation, is committed to promoting democracy by supporting informed and engaged communities. Founded by newsmen John S. and James L. Knight, the foundation launched the Knight News Challenge in 2007 to find the next generation of innovations that help communities get the information they need.