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. The first round of 2013, which opens in February, will invite innovators from all disciplines to focus on tools for open government. In 2012, three challenge rounds, each focused on an emerging trend, drew more than 2,500 entries.
Challenge 1 - on NETWORKS: Winners were announced June 18.
Challenge 2 - on DATA: Winners were announced Sept. 20.
Challenge 3 – on MOBILE: Winners were announced Jan. 17.
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.
1. What is your project? [1 sentence]
The iWitness Pollution Map is a crowd-sourcing tool that allows Louisiana residents living near oil and gas infrastructure to report environmental crimes like oil spills, chemical leaks and explosions using their mobile phones, computers and tablets.
2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]
The iWitness Pollution Map already has over 5,000 reports posted by citizens via text, phone and web: “Me and my kids have been feeling really nauseated. My daughter has been breaking out with rashes. We are smelling this really foul odor in the air. I think it is coming from the plant. It is causing us to choke and cough. We’ve got some bad colds. My son’s asthma has been acting up.” (5/31/2012)
Now we need a mobile app and a grassroots marketing campaign to further facilitate residents to report their geo location and post photographs and video of pollution they are experiencing in real time.
3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]
There are over one million Louisiana residents who live near the state’s oil and gas infrastructure: 17 refineries, over 150 chemical plants, 50,000 oil and gas wells, and 50,000 miles of pipelines. People are already using the map to spur media coverage and alert enforcement officials with the goal of making our communities cleaner and healthier, for example, eight reports from nearby residents to the map after a large Benzene release at a refinery convinced EPA to conduct an investigation.
4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project.
1. Our door-to-door canvass: we knock on at least 200 doors every week in neighborhoods all over the state to raise awareness on oil industry accidents and would love to be able to incorporate conversations/materials about using the mobile app.
2. Marketing campaign: Production of fans for use at local churches with map and app advertising (high tech meets low tech!), billboards, ads and coverage in small town newspapers, banner ads on local websites and blogs.
3. Rapid Response Team: Our community organizers canvass communities right after petrochemical accidents (at least nine per week statewide!), when eyewitnesses are looking for ways to document and get some action on the pollution and subsequent health effects they just experienced.
5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]
Our partnership with SkyTruth has allowed us to directly feed reports of pollution made by Louisiana oil and gas companies to the National Response Center into the map providing a necessary alert for potential chemical emergencies directly to our email or phone. We have a decade long relationship with community groups in the impacted areas, and we will be seeking app developers like Mappler that understand grassroots audiences and issues of social justice.
6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]
Since 2010, the iWitness Pollution Map has crowd sourced over 5,000 reports of chemical accidents, impacts from the BP Oil Spill and self reports from the polluter to the National Response Center. We already have solid partnerships with community groups in 10 parishes, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Coast Guard enforcement officials who respond to reports with inspections and criminal investigations.
7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]
Success is a 30% increase in reports to the iWitness Pollution Map via smart phone apps, text, phone or web form. An increase in verified reports containing time-stamped photos and video will result in an increase in media stories, citizen engagement, enforcement actions, inspections and investigations at polluting facilities.
8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]
We need $823,600 over two years to create a cutting edge user-friendly mobile app and implement a statewide grassroots marketing campaign: $10,000 will go to the construction of a mobile app; $288,000 per year will go to staff time for Community Outreach (locally based in 6 regions of the state), Rapid Response, Marketing and Media; $18,800 per year for office space (in New Orleans and one satellite office) and computers; $100,000 per year will go to marketing materials and advertisements; $50,000 per year will go to SkyTruth for technical assistance.
Please list who is on your team:
Louisiana Bucket Brigade staff, 2,000+ dues paying members and volunteer base creatively engage impacted communities.
LABB’s statewide network of grassroots community partners are taking air samples and sending in reports documenting the pollution problems in their neighborhoods.
Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy provides server space for the map.
SkyTruth already provides an alert RSS feed of self-reports from polluters to the National Response Center directly into the iWitness Pollution Map and will work to further refine the Alerts function for usability for app and non-app users.
US Coast Guard and US EPA use the map to locate hot spots of pollution and potential environmental crimes.
The team leader, LABB Program Manager Anna Hrybyk, has expertise from around the world in community based disaster preparedness, including the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
Expected number of months to complete project: 24 months
Estimated Project Cost: $400,000
Name: Anna Hrybyk
Email address: email@example.com
Organization [if applicable]: Louisiana Bucket Brigade
City: New Orleans
How did you learn about the contest? Submitted for the first contest on networks