Knight Foundation announces open government award winners


The Knight Foundation has announced the winners of its Open Government News Challenge. The winners will receive more than $3.2 million in awarded grants to build civic minded applications. The winners were announced during the foundation’s MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference at the MIT Media Lab.

Winners projects tackle a range of issues from making it easier to open a local business to creating a simulator that helps citizens visualize the impact of public policies on communities. The open government angle is new for the foundation which has typically been focused on issues of journalism, however, organizers recognize the need to provide mechanisms for greater transparency and civic engagement in order to further journalism as well as government accountability.

The challenge was first launched in February and tasked developers with creating applications that fulfill a real world need. The winners include:

Civic Insight, a blight tracker that provides information on vacant properties.

Open Counter, an app aimed at making it easier to start a business by streamlining government registration.

Open Gov for the Rest of Us which aims to improve low-income access around open government and civic engagement. which provides a “public policy simulator,” for individuals to see the impact of potential legislation on their communities.

Oyez Project: Makes state and appellate court documents freely available with summaries of decisions and audio recordings. Makes government contract bidding more transparent by simplifying the way smaller companies bid on government work;

GitMachines: Supports government innovation by creating tools and servers that meet government regulations, so that developers can easily build and adopt new technology;

Plan in a Box: Makes it easier to discover information about local planning projects, by offering quick set-up notification websites.

Six additional projects, identified through the News Challenge on Open Gov, received funding via the Knight Prototype Fund, which provides up to $50,000 so that innovators can take their projects from idea to demo. The funding underlines Knight’s emphasis on prototyping as a way to to encourage experimentation and spur innovation in media.

The Knight Foundation has also created this video with the winners: