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 Internet of News Things

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

To develop a wireless network of sensors to feed a data backend and visualizations for DIY data gathering. 

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

The vast majority of data journalism is based on data collected by the government. What if the government doesn’t keep the data you need? What if that data is incomplete or questionable? Journalists need inexpensive ways to gather their own useful data.

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

Behavio focuses on using smartphones as sensors to gather person-based data. We’re focused on using fixed sensors for data gathering, building on the Internet of Things idea. 

4. Why will it work? [100 words]

In the last year, there’s been a surge of innovation in small, cheap, low-power computing. More and more people, from hobbyists to businesses to university research centers, are looking at what can be done with lots of tiny computers connected to each other and the internet, called the Internet of Things. Couple that surge with world-changing advances in cloud computing, growth in the number of data visualization libraries available and an awakening in journalism to the power of data and you’ve got four ingredients made to be combined. 

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

Matt Waite, Professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, John Keefe, Senior Editor of Data News and Journalism Technology at WNYC radio in New York, and Javaun Moradi, Product Manager/APIs at NPR in Washington DC.

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

At UNL, Waite has built small scale sensor projects that continuously gather and process GPS data. More experiments in gathering sensor data and transmitting it over long distances wirelessly are ongoing. A prototype device capable of transmitting geolocated sensor data wirelessly to a central hub connected to the internet should be completed by the end of the summer. Field testing and scaling up would come afterward. 

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

The funds would be used to build the network, to employ student workers to experiment and assemble the devices, and to deploy a sensor project measuring noise across Lincoln, Neb., and New York City in collaboration with WNYC and NET Radio. 

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

The designs, documentation and other materials would remain online in forms and formats that would allow for others to copy, add to and improve over time. Consulting services for others interested in similar projects would be available. If feasible, sensors could be manufactured and sold.

Requested amount: $150,000

Expected number of months to complete project: 24
Total Project Cost: $300,000
Name: Matt Waite
Twitter: @mattwaite
Email address [optional]:
Organization: College of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
City: Lincoln
Country: USA
How did you learn about the contest? Previous entrant