Mapped live news, editorial cartoon games and virtual town halls – these are just some of the winning ideas from this year's US-based Knight News Challenge.

Entrants were required to propose ideas which would use digital technology to better inform local communities and develop the hyperlocal news scene.

A total of 12 projects were named winners, each one receiving a cut of $2.74 million to turn their ideas into a reality.

Winning projects also included 'real time' advertising using social media, online journals for Afghanistan soldiers and 'pitch and pay' news schemes for public radio.

Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation said it was vital that community involvement was at the heart of each idea.

"The free flow of shared information is essential for communities to function in a democracy," he said. "Until someone figures out the next big thing – the next killer app that might provide blockbuster connectivity and information sharing to masses of people – we can use the Knight News Challenge to experiment with ways to learn how to think in different ways about information sharing so we might discover the future of news."

Winners breakdown

CityTracking – Eric Rodenbeck, Stamen Design - $400,000
In a bid to make data easier to understand and distribute, CityTracking will enable users to create "embeddable data visualisations", which can be spread online as easily as images.

The Cartoonist - Ian Bogost and Michael Mateas – $378,000
This project aims to encourage readers to engage with the news by creating a tool which can produce editorial, cartoon-type games based on current events. Users will be prompted to answer a series of questions about the main characters within a news story and their actions, which 'The Cartoonist' will then convert into images and game rules.

Local Wiki - Philip Neustrom and Mike Ivanov – $350,000
This project plans to create enhanced tools for local wikis, which enable communities to learn and share localised knowledge. According to plans, members will be able to post articles on topics of interest, edit other articles and upload photos and files. The money will be used to create the specialized open-source software to make the plans possible.

WindyCitizen's Real Time Ads -  Brad Flora, – $250,000
Working alongside social media, this idea is aimed at creating viable advertising schemes for online start-ups. Their idea is to develop an improved software interface which would help sites create and sell 'real-time ads', featuring constantly changing media, such as Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or blog posts.

GoMap Riga - Marcis Rubenis and Kristofs Blaus, GoMap Riga – $250,000
Developing the hyperlocal news model, GoMap Riga involves the creation of a live, online map, offering local news and activities in a more visual form. Content will come both from the internet and placed automatically on the map, as well as residents who can add their own news, images and videos, whilst contributing general general discussion on local events. The maps will also be integrated with social networks and developed through mobile technology.

Order in the Court 2.0 - John Davidow, WBUR – $250,000
Court reports are the focus of this project, which plans to create a labatory in a Boston courtroom in order to establish the best ways for any US reporter to provide digital coverage to the public. Plans include a designated area for live blogging and the ability to live-stream court proceedings. While this research takes place, the project will publish the daily release of court proceedings online and build a knowledge wiki for the public of common legal terms.

Front Porch Forum - Michael Wood-Lewis, Front Porch Forum – $220,000
Through the creation of a virtual town hall space online, this project hopes to rebuild and enhance an already successful community news site, which covers 25 Vermont towns, before expanding it out to include 250 towns. The forum will allow residents to share and debate local issues and news events in a central location.

One-Eight - Teru Kuwayama – Awarded $202,000
This winning entry of an online journal will attempt to bring the US public closer to troops on military operations in  Afghanistan. One-Eight will follow a specific battalion, combining reporting from embedded journalists with user-generated content from the Marines themselves. The project also hopes to assess the impact of a recent authorisation for troops to use social media while deployed.

Stroome - Nonny de la Peña and Tom Grasty, Stroome – $200,000
Through the creation of a virtual video-editing studio, this project hopes to simplify the production of news video by enabling correspondents, editors and producers to upload, share, edit and remix content with others. This will reduce the need for expensive satellite truck technology. The site will initially be launched as eyewitness video, which it is hoped will create demand for supporting to tools.

CitySeed - Retha Hill and Cody Shotwell, Arizona State University – $90,000
CitySeed offers local communities a chance to engage in the first step of a news story. The mobile application will allow users to plant the 'seed' of an idea and share it with other people. This idea can then be 'geotagged', linking it to an exact location which will then encourage others to debate on matters of geographical interest to them.

PRX StoryMarket - Jake Shapiro, PRX – $75,000
This project aims to encourage local people to take control of the news they consume, enabling them to pitch and pay for an idea they wish to see investigated by a local public radio station. Once the amount has been raised through contributions, a professional journalist will be hired to carry out the report.

Tilemapping - Eric Gundersen, Development Seed – $74,000
This winning entry features another map tool, which hopes to enable journalists and bloggers to better illustrate raw data and make news more geographically relevant to local people. A prototype of this project was used by a previous winner after the Haiti earthquake, to create maps which were then used to crowdsource reports on places needing aid.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).