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]

DialFly is an application to stream any recorded sound file as a phone call, making any news and podcast available to every mobile phone.   

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

Because DialFly will be built specifically to operate through phone calls and SMS, it will be available to any cell phone as well as smart phone. It will be built on the Tropo or Twilio telephony infrastructure, and tested with range of mobile devices without assuming consumers will have internet access.

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

Users span across socioeconomic class and region- any case where a data plan is unavailable and where call minutes are inexpensive is a situation where DialFly will increase access to news and podcasts, as well as user uploaded audio to share.  

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

one : Users will learn about the project through popular podcasts and news shows. Each show will have a phone extension, which is in the show’s benefit to share since it increases their listening community.  

two : Radio stations will learn about the project through direct marketing. We will seek out specific local radio stations that may have little or no internet connectivity.  DialFly may be used to stream shows previously unavailable through the local radio to the rest of a community. 

three : Users will tell other users. People can share through SMS the phone extension for the news or podcast.  In addition users will be able to make their own recordings with their phone and share through messaging the extension.   

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

I have spoken to individuals involved with ICT4D, as well as designers/engineers at Dlab and Hlab about the project.  There has been a positive response, with examples of specific regions and helpful use cases that these individuals suggested would be personally useful. I will use those connections, as well as those that I have with local makerspaces Sprout and the Artisan’s Asylum to see out specific use cases to build in collaboration with a particular community- be it a local media source, or interested early adopters.

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

Currently the project is conceptual. I have experience building several mobile telephony applications with Twilio, as well as Arduino.  One example is the cool comply prototype

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

Anyone with a phone can stream audio programs from any country by calling a phone number with a particular extension.  Anyone with a phone can record a story to share.  

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

Most helpful to success would be the funding and mentorship of the Knight Foundation- this project can improve dissemination and accessibility of news throughout the world- and working with those experienced in journalism and disruptive technology will improve the chances of DialFly success.  I would use the funding to hire a collaborative designer, developer, and community project manager.    

Additional details:
Please list who is on your team: Kawandeep Virdee
Expected number of months to complete project: 12
Estimated Project Cost: 100,000
Name: Kawandeep Virdee
Twitter: @kawantum
Email address: whichlight at gmail 
Organization [if applicable]:
City: Cambridge, MA
Country: USA
How did you learn about the contest? Friends

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