Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Funf wins SXSW Accelerator Competition in News Related Technologies track

March 14, 2012, 12:21 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


A visualization of Funf. Design: Cody Sumter

Last night, Funf, an open sensing framework, won the 2012 SXSW Accelerator Competition for the News Related Technology track.

Funf, which launched in October, explores how mobile phones can be used as sensor platforms to track the location, movement, app activity and extended networks of its users and communities.

With Funf, users can contribute anonymously to creating data sets for themselves and their communities. For example, during a disaster, Funf would use the data from the sensing networks in people's cellphones to create real-time maps of which roads are clear or blocked, where there is a cell phone outage and where people are trapped. Funf also collects data about the surrounding environment,  including levels of light, pressure and temperature.

Researchers may be able to predict small changes in individuals’ behavior - like changes in sleeping and waking patterns and communications - that could have important implications for predicting diseases.

Collected data can be measured by the Funf framework and configured in a variety of ways, including in data visualizations, notifications and other applications.

Knight Foundation, a sponsor of the Accelerator Competition, sat down to interview key members of the Funf team - Nadav Aharony, Alan Gardner and Cody Sumter - to learn what winning the competition meant for them and what’s next for the project.

At SXSW, Rishi Jaitly shares insights as to what makes community philanthropy work

March 13, 2012, 3:01 p.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

Video: The Urban Innovation Exchange is chronicling small-scale community projects making a difference in Detroit.

“One big question we constantly ask as we think about community grantmaking is how do we go from pockets of impact to real strategic change?” Rishi Jaitly, program director/Detroit at Knight Foundation, asked this morning at a SXSW panel.

He posed the question during a discussion focused on the new face of philanthropy and community grantmaking, and how it can best engage new people to contribute to local projects.

Citing Knight Foundation-supported initiatives like Kiva Detroit, the BME ChallengeUrban Innovation Exchange and Hatch Detroit, Jaitly shared that in his experience, the best community philanthropy projects have the potential to create strategic change if they focus on and are successful in the following three key areas:

Election Perceptions, 3: As the Internet goes, so goes the anti-Putin vote?

March 13, 2012, 12:49 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton

Today’s is the final of three posts looking at the media, data and elections. This time, Russia is the topic.   

First, it’s hard to know if last week’s election numbers are solid. The western press writes of election fraud. Some problems are admitted. Other reports say all was well. Yet we have the numbers we have, mapped in this post by Knight News Challenge winner Aaron Presnall and his nonpartisan Jefferson Institute, so let’s take a look.

President Vladimir Putin’s victory was substantial – but here’s an interesting point: the data seem to say that his results were related to Internet penetration levels.  Here are two rather extreme examples: In the North Caucasian Federal District, Internet penetration is a low 34 percent and the pro-Putin vote was a high 83.1 percent; In Moscow, Internet penetration is strong at 64 percent and Putin is weak at 47.3 percent.

I’m not arguing that the Internet by itself caused Putin’s lower total in Moscow. It was one of several factors.  Elections are complex. You have candidates, issues, process, existence of or lack of peace and prosperity and the general mindset of the people.