Knight News Challenge

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.


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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

A system to map diverse inputs that describe place as specially navigable time-based streams of environmental data (e.g. image, sound, numerical readings) and individual and group exploration of and contributions to these mappings.

2. How will your project use mobile tools and approaches? [2 sentences]

The mobile app supports users in the field who are collecting new input or exploring existing data points. The mobile interface allows users to visualize complex dynamics of an environment through seasons or years by matching of the exact physical location of the mobile user to the environment query.

3. Who will use it and why? [1 sentence]

Visitors to enabled locations include scientists, educators, students, and the general public.

4. Please list three ways they would learn about your project.

This project serves to facilitate the participation and access to the time-based visualization of the record of place and history. The system will utilize a social media platform to engage the public in data streams that are significant to the environmental, research, and educational initiatives at the Living Observatory. A umbrella web portal ( contextualizes the project and provides  up-to-date events of the Living Observatory. The project will also be publicized by our partners (see #5), press, ant conferences. 

5. What connections have you made, or will you make, with others [communities, organizations or networks] about your project? [2 sentences]

The umbrella project, Living Observatory, has a large number of partners including: Boston University, School of Communication, the MIT Media Lab, University of Mass, Tidmarsh Farms, Inc., Mass Fish and Wildlife Division of Ecological Restoration, USDA NRCS Wetlands Reserve Program, NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Manomet Center for Conservation Science, Interfluve, Inc.,, Mass Audubon, Town of Plymouth. Once a prototype is developed we will extend our outreach to other conservation, environmental, and science education groups.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [1-2 sentences, feel free to include links]

We have interaction design and interface sketches for a desktop browser. We need to develop the backend database for the system; the backend needs to incorporate the data model as well as security requirements so that multiple users can access, share and discuss their interpretations via the mobile app.  

Desktop design:

Initial functional desktop sketch (work-in -progress):

7. What does success for your project look like? [1-2 sentences]

A sticky experience, that allows many users to easily store, sort through, map, comment on diverse data streams from an on-site sensor network as well as to contribute own observations/interpretations. The layering paradigm chosen for the interface provides a readily understood framework for the multiple data streams. 

8. What resources do you need to succeed? [1-2 sentences]

We need resources for an application back-end developer and front-end mobile UX designer/technologist.

Additional details:
Please list who is on your team: Hyun-Yeul Lee, Glorianna Davenport
Expected number of months to complete project: 12
Estimated Project Cost: $200K
Name: Hyun-Yeul Lee, Glorianna Davenport
Twitter: @hyun, @gloriannad
Email address:,
Organization [if applicable]: Living Observatory, Boston University, MIT Media Laboratory
City: Boston, MA
Country: USA
How did you learn about the contest? Word of mouth, and Twitter feed

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