20 projects explore new uses of data, media and tech with support of Knight Prototype Fund

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Nearly three years ago we started funding prototypes as a way to make small bets on exploratory work that promises to create new pathways for information that is essential for communities. We’ve focused on providing funding for broad experimentation at this early stage, designing a program that asks small teams to iteratively test their assumptions and share what they’ve learned.

This post has been updated to reflect the Aug. 17, 2015 deadline for the Knight Prototype Fund. 

We now fund groups of prototype projects each quarter. In addition to $35,000, teams receive training in human-centered design and support from a data science team at Impact Lab to structure their learning objectives. At the end of six months, they meet to share what they’ve learned and the outcomes of their projects.

The deadline for the next round of Prototype Fund grants is Aug. 17. Submitting an idea is easy; just answer five questions through our online form.

This round of grants includes a diverse group of projects that explore novel uses of data, media and technology to inform people. Check out the 20 projects receiving support in this cohort below.

Chris Barr is director of media innovation at Knight Foundation. Email him at [email protected]. Apply for the Knight Prototype Fund at prototypefund.org.

Knight Prototype Fund recipients

Ballot by WeVote (Project Lead: Amy Chiou; Charlotte, N.C.): Making voting easy by matching voters with candidates who share their political views through a free Web and mobile app that provides simple quizzes and surveys and uses a matching algorithm to sort candidates by compatibility.

Community Resource Aggregator by Union Capital Boston (Project lead: Laura Ballek; Boston): Developing a mobile-based loyalty program for low-income families that provides social and financial rewards in exchange for community involvement in schools, health centers and civic programs.

Culture Conversations by Dance Heritage Coalition (Project lead: Imogen Smith; San Francisco): Helping the San Francisco art community preserve digital arts criticism related to dance through a tool that will make these stories fully searchable using descriptive metadata and linking it to streaming dance videos.

Futurism.co 2.0 The Evolving Knowledge System by Futurism (Project lead: Alexander Klokus; Brooklyn, N.Y.): Helping readers easily access a collection of top science and technology stories curated through a tool that aggregates and ranks based on source credibility, keywords and social media metrics.

KLRN Virtual Classroom by Alamo Public Telecommunications Council (Project lead: Katrina Kehoe; San Antonio, Texas): Using PBS LearningMedia and the OVEE video platform to support students who are homeschooled through a virtual classroom experience that allows them to interact with their peers online and take advantage of PBS educational resources.

Metadata Beyond the Open Graph by Contextly (Project lead: Ryan Singel; San Francisco): Developing a new kind of writing interface that helps journalists and others create stories that include additional context and descriptive metadata, so they can be found and used more easily.

A Metadata Graphing Interface by Chicago Public Media (Project leads: Matthew Green and Brendan Metzger; Chicago): Enabling content creators to provide audiences with smarter, better search results, story recommendations and the ability to explore content through an easy-to-use publishing platform.

mRelief (Project lead: Rose Afriyie; Chicago): Helping people in financial need access public assistance resources through a platform that enables them to locate and apply for benefits.

Neighborhood Drawing Tool by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (Project lead: Jessie Partridge; Boston): Helping activists, planners, students, and others find information and crowdsource popular knowledge about their neighborhoods through a tool that allows them to aggregate data based on their own definition of neighborhood boundaries.

Numina by CTY (Project lead: Tara Pham; St. Louis, Mo.): Allowing cities and planning organizations to capture more accurate pedestrian and cyclist data by installing a machine learning-based sensor tool in city neighborhoods.

Open Permit by Aecosoft Corp. (Project lead: Martin Maykel; Miami): Helping citizens more easily access business permitting information by creating a platform that lets multiple jurisdictions present permit data in standard formats and that can be integrated with existing systems.

Perceptoscope (Project lead: Ben Sax; Los Angeles): Helping civic institutions like museums and historical sites present local information through augmented-reality enabled, coin-operated binoculars that provide immersive experiences in public spaces using interactive art, historical recreations and real-time data visualizations.

Playable Stories by Arizona State University New Media Innovation Lab and Center for Games and Impact (Project leads: Retha Hill, Juli James and Adam Ingram-Goble) (Tempe, Ariz.): Enabling journalists to produce interactive, mobile-ready news experiences, based on the principles of gaming and journalism, in a Wordpress plugin and theme; for example, audiences will be able to interact with stories to choose sides, make decisions and see the outcomes.

Railroad Project (Project lead: Seth Forsgren; Miami Beach, Fla.): Allowing journalists, governments and the public to foster two-way communications with their audiences, through a video messaging tool that captures both sides of a conversation.

The Ripple Mapping Tool by Allied Media Projects (Project lead: Jenny Lee; Detroit): Allowing social good organizations and others to measure the outcomes of a particular event through a tool that collects information from participants on what they did or did not learn, whom they met and what, if anything, grew from the experience.

Semantic Timeline Maker by The Lens (Project lead: Abe Handler; New Orleans): Helping make sense of large amounts of data, such as emails and news articles, via a program that extracts structured facts from free text.

She said, he said by Open Media Foundation (Project lead: Leo Kacenjar; Denver): Helping citizens hold legislators more accountable through a video and audio library tool that allows users to more easily access and discover archived video recordings from U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sessions.

Troll-Busters by (Project lead: Michelle Ferrier; Athens, Ohio): Addressing cyberbullying of women bloggers and publishers through an online and mobile reporting, notification, and monitoring tool.

Unveillance (Project lead: Harlo Holmes; New York): Enabling journalists and others to uncover answers and explore data sets through a friend-to-friend file-sharing platform in which users can “drop” documents into a folder and have them quickly analyzed and explored.

Verified Pixel Project (Project lead: Samaruddin Stewart; Daly City, Calif.): Helping news organizations quickly verify photos captured by everyday people through a platform that allows automated testing of the photos through metadata and image analysis.

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