“The testable moment for media innovation” by Chris Barr on Knight Blog
MIAMI — (Jan. 22, 2014) — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced funding for 24 new projects out of the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps innovators explore early-stage media and information ideas with $35,000 in funding.
Several of the projects highlight the growing role of designers as community problem solvers, focused on improving civic life and tackling challenges facing their own cities and neighborhoods. They include design-driven tools from a Web application that helps diverse groups solve problems and build consensus, to another that allows journalists to track breaking news stories.
Nine of the projects surfaced through the Knight News Challenge: Health, which sought ideas that harness the power of data and information for the health of communities. Knight Foundation announced the seven challenge winners last week. Projects in this area include a tool that provides up-to-date data on sexually transmitted diseases so health officials can efficiently provide services and a system that engages youth to help measure air quality and collect environmental data.
Prototype Fund investments allow people to experiment, learn and iterate before moving on to the more costly stage of building out a project. It represents the evolution of Knight’s process for the Prototype Fund, which the foundation launched in June 2012. Projects now go through a six-month prototyping period that begins with a crash course in human-centered design, facilitated by LUMA Institute. Using this design training as a basis to build out their ideas, teams come together after six months for a Knight-hosted Demo Day to share their discoveries and prototypes. The next deadline for prototype applications is Jan. 31, 2014.
“The Prototype Fund began because of a move by Knight to match its funding more closely to the pace of innovation, while taking advantage of the low cost of experimentation,” said Chris Barr, who leads the Knight Prototype Fund, an initiative of the foundation’s Journalism and Media Innovation program. “Its latest iteration recognizes design as a powerful problem-solving tool that places people at the center of the creative process.”
The evolution of the Prototype Fund signals another move by Knight Foundation to introduce a more iterative approach to project funding across its Journalism and Media Innovation program.
The projects receiving investments in this Prototype round are:
Artefact: Advancing civic engagement by creating a Web-based deliberation tool that uses design strategies to promote problem solving and drive consensus among a group of diverse strangers.
Argos: Making news content easy to digest by building a design-driven news platform that aggregates and analyzes news stories and creates concise news backgrounders, including insights and connections regarding specific stories.
Bocoup: Conducting a survey and creating a guide identifying patterns and best practices for mobile data visualization.
Brown Bag Software: Revealing the challenges and constraints of building mass transit by creating a simulation app that allows the public to build model transit and land-use programs to better understand basic design and operational constraints.
CCTV Center for Media & Democracy: Using the Burlington, Vt., public gigabit network, in collaboration with the Code for BTV Code for America Brigade, to make cloud computing resources available for community-driven software applications that range from live interactive video of public meetings to civic apps that solve pressing community issues.
Civic Ninjas: Creating an application to help the public identify and visualize meaningful local health data through an accessible, fun interface inspired by Sunlight Foundation’s Sitegeist.
Data Driven Detroit: Informing the public and addressing important community issues by developing an interactive tool that helps Detroit residents discover and use relevant data about their city.
Farmers Market Coalition: Providing farmers markets with a Web application to easily and effectively collect, store and report data about the health impacts of their markets.
Fathom: Making complex zoning data accessible and actionable for the public by creating a website that will visualize details of Boston’s new rezoning ordinance for urban farming.
Forest Giant and Urban Design Studio: Creating LouLoops, a mobile app that maps bike routes and collects data so that local officials can officially plan infrastructure projects.
Global Sensor Web: Helping scientists and citizens collaborate and better monitor their environment through an online platform for aggregating geo-tagged data sets from public data sources and the onboard sensors of mobile phones.
HabitatMap: Empowering youth to help measure air quality and collect data by developing the next version of Kids Making Sense, a complete measurement sensing system and curriculum.
Keepr: Creating an open source data-mining tool for journalists to track breaking news stories, so they can easily find quality news sources.
!nstant: Building a mobile app designed to verify and provide context to breaking news on social media so that the public is given a more accurate and clear picture of news stories.
One Degree: Helping people find community resources by developing a Web app that allows users to discover, track and share their experiences about social services.
Restatement: Making legal information more accessible by producing a design-driven system for the creation and parsing of machine-readable legal text.
Sexual Health Innovations: Providing up-to-date STD data by building an API to allow easy sharing of aggregate STD test data among clinics, health departments and the Centers for Disease Control to inform communities and help organizations mobilize resources to those in need.
Silent Spring Institute & MIT Media Lab: Making data easier to understand by creating multi-sensory, immersive and aesthetic experiences of environmental health indicators (example: sharing chemical exposure data with a community through a human-sized interactive bar chart).
Smart Chicago Collaborative: Using Twitter to identify potential cases of food poisoning in Chicago and encouraging individuals to report incidents of food poisoning.
The Center for Rural Strategies: Testing an approach to generate data-driven, localized news stories that media and other organizations in rural U.S. counties can use to produce local stories.
University of Missouri: Developing a system to collect and report noise data to better track problems of noise pollution in Columbia, Mo., that will be informed by community hacking events and prototype tests.
Vizzuality: Building an open source tool that allows journalists and other users to quickly turn data, maps and other content into interactive stories for online publication.
Zago: Seeking to make newsrooms more efficient by building a mobile app that will allow secure data sharing between reporters and their newsrooms.
The Knight Prototype Fund accepts applications quarterly; the next application deadline is Jan. 31, 2014. Visit prototypefund.org for more information.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
CONTACT: Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]