Eight mobile ventures win $2.4 million in funding in Knight challenge

cell phones

The Knight News Challenge has announced its latest funding winners in the mobile category. As CivSource reported before, the Knight News Challenge is supported by the Knight Foundation, the nation’s leading funder of journalism and media innovation. The Challenge was launched in 2007 to provide funding for tools and applications that help communities get the information they need. In September, Knight announced a group of winners focused on Civic Data, the latest round focuses on mobile technology.

Ranging from projects that turn no-frills mobile phones into radio stations to applications that help newsrooms manage a deluge of incoming mobile content, eight media innovation ventures received a total of $2.4 million. Many of the projects focus on using mobile to get news and information in developing countries. Among them: Wikipedia, which will develop new tools to allow people to access articles and knowledge via text message in multiple languages. The project is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to offer access in the developing world to its site without prohibitive data charges.

In addition to Wikipedia, the winners include, WITNESS, a project lead by the human rights organization WITNESS in partnership with The Guardian Project. The application automatically stamps images and news coming into newsrooms with identifying information, allowing newsroom staff to respond more quickly during major events.

Another app, Digital Democracy enables residents of the Peruvian Amazon to document the effects of mining and oil drilling by creating a mobile tool kit they can use to collect and share data. RootIO which is currently being piloted in Uganda will connect basic mobile phones with a transmitter to turn them into micro community radio stations.

Abayima will let users turn a SIM card into a storage device for news and information. Textizen a US based civic participation app originally piloted through Code for America, places survey questions in physical places like parks and bus stops where residents will encounter them and can text in their opinion. Winner TKOH helps to record oral histories with an app that prompts people to tell stories when they see pre-selected photos or videos.

Finally, Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation connects small farmers in developing countries with advice and feedback via a platform through which they can ask questions and have them quickly answered by farmers in other communities. In the pilot, a Kenyan farmer received advice on frost control and tips on raising rabbits.

The winners of the challenge will be demonstrating their applications live on the Knight website from the award ceremony tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET/ 10:30 a.m. MT at knightfoundation.org/live.