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.

The DOLLY (Data On Local Life and You) Project – Bringing Local Geodata to the People

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

DOLLY provides a website to map geographic social media and official data to enable users to analyze their local communities.

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

Geo-coded social media (tweets, check-ins) are all around us recording daily community life.  DOLLY offers accessible visualizations that integrate big spatial data drawn from governmental sources and social media over time.  Users can explore changing activities and social trends within their community leading to a more involved and inclusive citizenry.

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

Current methods for exploring geosocial media are complex, restricted to single datasets, and/or involve “black box” data aggregation.  DOLLY provides simple, interactive, well-documented tools to combine user-generated and governmental geodata.

4. Why will it work? [100 words]

There is a growing amount of geosocial media generated every year.  Yet few citizens have the resources to aggregate/access it in meaningful and methodologically correct ways.

DOLLY brings geodata to the local scale where community issues/concerns live.  Simple yet powerful maps, histograms and visualizations (utilizing open source libraries) allow anyone to explore large and small data sets geographically.

The recent Lexington-Fayette Open Data Initiative to release local governmental geodata (championed by Mayor Jim Gray), makes Lexington an ideal setting to showcase how geosocial data and spatial analysis can be leveraged to address the concerns of local communities and citizens. 

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

DOLLY is led by Dr. Matthew Zook, director of the FloatingSheep blog on geodata and co-founder of the New Mappings Collaboratory at the University of Kentucky.  Dr. Zook has decades of experience using information mapping to study localities as well as the use of user generated data in disasters.

Other key actors include Dr. Jeremy Crampton and Dr. Matthew Wilson (experts in applied mapping and community involvement), the non-profit OpenLexington (working with Lexington’s open data) and the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper (the primary access portal). 

In addition, DOLLY is supported by a global network of researchers, journalists and community data activists.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]

We have developed a scalable back-end database (built on top of existing open source software) that stores, indexes and analyzes a continuous stream of geosocial data on the fly. Since December 2011 this system has processed every geocoded tweet worldwide (~5 million per day) to test robustness and ensure an archive of this otherwise transient data. Other sources of geosocial media (Flickr, Foursquare, Yelp) and government data are currently being added to the back end.  In collaboration with Open Lexington (and the Lexington Open Data Initiative) the process (both legal and cyberinfrastructure) to incorporate local municipal geodata has begun.

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

We would create a dashboard frontend to the existing databases. Users could visualize the social media in their neighborhood via density maps, spatial joins (with local governmental data), histograms, and co-occurrence tools. 

Field testing in Lexington through university class projects and community outreach followed by online/offline workshops focused on expansion to other communities.

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

DOLLY personnel are employed by academic organizations with maintenance part of ongoing duties.  Expansion of this open source mapping tool will be channeled via existing networks of community, government and academic collaborators (currently meeting on a bi-yearly basis) with additional funding possible via local governments or federal agencies.

Requested amount: 300,000

Expected number of months to complete project: 12-18 months, work to begin in August 2012

Total Project Cost:  350,000

Name: Matthew Zook

Twitter: @mattzook and @floating_sheep and @new_maps

Email address [optional]:

Organization: New Mappings Collaboratory

City: Lexington

Country: United States

How did you learn about the contest? Twitter

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