Knight News Challenge

View the video from The Story & The Algorithm: 2012 MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference. Read and comment on the live blog created during the conference. Tweet with #civicmedia and #newschallenge.

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas.

Throughout 2012, innovators from all industries and countries are invited to participate in three challenge rounds, each with focused topics on emerging trends.

Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS - is closed, and the winners will be announced June 18.

Challenge 2 - on DATA - will be open May 31 - June 21. We’re looking for new ways of collecting, understanding, visualizing and helping the public use the large amounts of information generated each day. Winners will be announced in late September.

Details on Challenge 3 will available later this year.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

Tethr: Improving Journalism and Data Collection Anywhere

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1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]

Build a portable information hub and associated services that let journalists, NGOs or anyone else get critical data from the field.

2. How will your project make data more useful? [50 words]

Our hub with local applications allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to record text, voice, video or data about what is going on. Synchronization gets that information back to where it is needed without any IT expertise. Services analyze that data and make it available to the world.

3. How is your project different from what already exists? [30 words]

Current solutions for data gathering and communications require IT expertise that is not easily available in remote locations. Our solution is easy to use with no IT knowledge required.

4. Why will it work? [100 words]

Tethr lets people use complicated things like GSM base stations, file servers and worldwide 3G connections without knowing anything about the underlying technology. Our users turn on Tethr, answer a couple of simple questions on a web page and are then set up with the applications, services and connectivity they need.


  1. Journalists upload photos, audio and videos to Tethr and know that the files will be synchronized to the cloud, allowing them to continue to work uninterrupted.
  2. NGOs use Tethr to collect critical information about what’s happening locally, whether in disaster areas or villages, and then get that data back to places where people can make decisions about how best to proceed.

5. Who is working on it? [100 words]

Our team’s background in communications, user experience, IT and disaster relief gives us a unique ability to build a device and services based on open source software and proven off-the-shelf hardware.

Aaron Huslage has been working on crisis response since 2005 when he helped build wireless networks after Hurricane Katrina. He is our chief idea guy and inspiration.

Roger Weeks is a professional nerd who has been building community and service provider wireless networks since 2000. He is building our prototype units

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]
We have a lightweight, portable prototype that runs off of DC power, provides local Wi-Fi, uses a 3G network for Internet access, and integrates with satellite or any other ethernet-based connection.

The prototype gives local users access to Ushahidi and a local installation of OpenStreetMaps, allowing immediate collection of crowdsourced reports. The unit also includes basic file synchronization for any type of file.

This device has been field tested and the need has been verified with constituencies like journalists, NGOs, and the public sector. We have a prototype unit currently in the field with Internews in Nairobi.

7. How would you use News Challenge funds? [50 words]

We will manufacture at least 75 production units with the initial funding and develop initial services as well as hiring additional people.

8. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]

Sales of the units we produce with funding and the services around them will allow us to continue development and production. We will also seek additional sources of funding.

Requested amount: $500,000

Expected number of months to complete project: 6-12 months
Total Project Cost: $1,500,000
Name: Roger Weeks & Aaron Huslage
Twitter: @tethr
Email address [optional]:
Organization: Tethr
City: Durham, NC
Country: USA
How did you learn about the contest? Knight News Challenge Tumblr

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    Tethr entered the second round of the Knight News Challenge, this time focused on Data. Please go there and like the...
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