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April 30, 2015, 9 a.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Justin Ellis   |   April 30, 2015

The Knight Foundation is awarding more than $700,000 to a new round of technology projects, with a focus on storytelling, data, and community building. Twenty projects will each receive $35,000 as part of the Knight Prototype Fund, which is aimed at offering early seed investments in ideas focused on information needs.

The projects in this round come from the world of technology, media, and civic engagement and include media companies like Chicago Public Media and The Lens, as well as content recommendation service Contextly and a former Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellow.

Like many Knight-backed projects, the Prototype Fund winners are designed to address community-based problems focused on increasing access to information, building tools for reporters, and improving participation in elections. (Disclosure: The Knight Foundation is a funder of Nieman Lab, though not through the Prototype Fund.)

Some of the projects include an app that uses games to helps voters identify what candidate they agree with, a tool for curating science stories based on credibility metrics, and a platform to help news organizations verify photos from users. Along with the funding, each project will go through a six-month program from the LUMA Institute that will take teams through human-centered design and prepare them for a demo day later this year.

Knight is currently accepting applications for the next round of Prototype Fund grants, with a deadline of May 15. The full list of winners is below.

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. 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: Matt Cloyd) (Boston): Helping people find information on a wide range of topics specific to their location through a tool that allows users to define the boundaries of their neighborhood or community of interest and crowdsource popular cultural knowledge.

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 Lead: 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, La.): 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, Co.): 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 House of Representatives and Senate sessions.

Troll-Busters by (Project lead: Dr. Michelle Ferrier) (Athens, OH): 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 datasets through a friend-to-friend file-sharing platform in which users can “drop” documents into a folder 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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