OpenStreetMap is awarded $575K to build new tools

The six winning projects of the Knight News data challenge have today been announced. The projects all unlock data "so journalists can analyse numbers and trends".

Collectively the projects, which "make it easier to access and use information on local communities, air quality, elections, demographics and more" are awarded $2.2 million.

UK-registered community-mapping project OpenStreetMap will receive $575,000 to create new tools, which will be built by US-based company DevelopmentSeed.

Founded in 2004, OpenStreetMap gained much attention when volunteers mapped Port au Prince following the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Last year two UK-based digital data projects received a total of $530,000 in funding from the Knight News Challenge. Data journalism platform ScraperWiki and the Open Knowledge Foundation were two of 16 winners.

The data challenge is one of three launched by the Knight Foundation this year, with the other two a mobile challenge, which is yet to announce winners, and a networks challenge, which has named the funded projects.

The data challenge encouraged applications from those with "ideas that make the large amounts of information produced each day available, understandable and actionable".

Michael Maness, vice president for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation said in a release: "The winning projects go well beyond collecting data to unlocking its value in simple and powerful ways, so journalists can analyse numbers and trends, and communities can make decisions on issues important to them."

The six winners, who will present their projects via livestream from the Online News Association conference in San Francisco on Saturday (22 September), are:

Safecast: Creating a community of citizen and professional scientists to measure and share data on air quality in Los Angeles and other US cities. The air quality effort is inspired by Safecast’s success in providing radiation data following Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster.

LocalData: Providing a set of tools that communities can use to collect data on paper or via a smartphone app, then export or visualise the data via an easy-to-use dashboard. The city of Detroit has used the tools, created by Code for America fellows, to track urban blight.

Open Elections: Creating the first freely available, comprehensive source of US election results, allowing journalists and researchers to analyse trends that account for campaign spending, demographic changes, legislative track records and more. Senior developers from the Washington Post and the New York Times lead the project.

New Tools for OpenStreetMap: Launching tools that make it easier for communities to contribute to OpenStreetMap, the community-mapping project used by millions via Foursquare and Wikimedia and becoming a leading source for open, street-level data. DevelopmentSeed (based in Washington DC) will create the tools.

Pop Up Archive: Taking multimedia content – including audio, pictures and more – from the shelf to the web, so that it can be searchable, reusable and shareable. Founded by University of California grad students and SoundCloud Fellows, the project beta tested by helping archive the collection of the independent, Peabody-winning production team the Kitchen Sisters. Providing journalists and the public with a simpler way to access Census data, so they can spend less time managing the information and more time analysing it and finding trends. The project is led by a senior developer from the Chicago Tribune in partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).

Full project descriptions can be found at this link.

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