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.

Open311 Mobile Dashboard

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1. What is your project? [1 sentence]

A mobile dashboard application that visualizes Open311 requests for every Open311 endpoint currently in existence.

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

The dashboard doesn’t aim to overwhelm the user with information, but provide the user with the most pertinent information available — endpoints ordered by nearest location, simple graphs of incoming Open311 service requests, and health indicator statuses for server response times.

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

City managers and citizens that wish to see relevant information about their city’s Open311 server at a glance.

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

  • Code for America and the Code for America Commons are a great resource for open-source projects focused on local government solutions.
  • Open311 vendors, as all Open311 endpoints are included into the project at no cost.
  • The Knight Foundation, social media, and engaged citizens that wish to have this information available for their city.

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

I’ve been with Code for America since June of 2011 (first as an intern, and this year as a fellow), so I feel I have great connections with those working in the Gov 2.0 space. Also, having worked with the city of Macon, Georgia this past year, I have been in contact with their Open311 provider, SeeClickFix.

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

During February residency in Macon, I built the open-source Open311 Python library Three and have been improving upon it since. I also loved Ben Sheldon’s take on what Open311 health status updates could look like, so I currently have a rough iOS prototype based off of that.

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

I’d love for the Open311 standard to spread to more cities, and for one reason behind that growth to be a smart, well-designed app that provides relevant Open311 information to the user at a glance. My favorite civic application is Routesy, so I intend for the mobile dashboard to be the Open311 equivalent to what Routesy has done with GTFS.

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

The ability to travel to cities currently using Open311 and iterate upon it’s design/feature set with those citizens and local government employees that are most likely to be the application’s initial user base.

Additional details:
Please list who is on your team:
Zach Williams
Expected number of months to complete project:
Estimated Project Cost:
Zach Williams
Email address:
Organization [if applicable]:
San Francisco, CA
How did you learn about the contest?
Code for America

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