Knight Foundation Awards $450K to ‘Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd’

Today the Knight Foundation has announced the 17 recipients of the latest Knight News Challenge Award, including one Washington, DC-based venture. Out of 1014 entries, “Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd” and 16 others will receive a portion of the $3.2M fund to use data in order to inform and empower people to make better decisions about their lives, communities, and democracy.

DC-based Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd will receive $450,000, one of the largest rewarded amounts, in order to enable anyone to survey crowds and share reliable, credible results through the use of easy-to-use online tools that allow users to create more scientifically sound surveys. More specifically, they will enable anyone to conduct more scientifically-sound public opinion surveys. This will be completed by weighing factors such as demographics and socio-economic bias in order to produce credible results.

“The winning projects reveal new ways to shape and deliver information through data – showing how it can be used to build stronger more informed communities, while inviting people to explore and innovate,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation.

DC’s winning project, Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd, is pitched by Orb Media, and will be led by Heather Krause and Neal Rothleder. In their pitch, Krause and Rothleder discuss the challenges people face while attempting to understand data and information while ensuring demographic and socioeconomic bias is reduced or removed. Their pitch stated, “this project will create software tools and online services to help survey-makers frame sampling questions, embed them into existing survey and Q&A platforms, statistically adjust the collected results and help visualize the answers – allowing everyone to poll the crowd and share reliable results.”

The winners were announced today at a convening hosted at Civic Hall in New York.

The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. They believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

Winning Projects and Amounts

All the Places Personal Data Goes by Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University ($440,000 | Project lead: Latanya Sweeney | Cambridge, Mass.): Making it easier to find out how your personal data is being shared between companies by creating a crowdsourced resource that documents and visualizes these data sharing arrangements.

Citizens Police Data Project by The Experimental Station in partnership with The Invisible Institute ($400,000 | Project leads: Harry Backlund, Alison Flowers, Darryl Holliday, Chaclyn Hunt, Jamie Kalven, Rajiv Sinclair, WuDi Wu | Chicago): Building an online toolkit for reporting, tracking and analyzing allegations of police misconduct and their investigations in Chicago that will serve as a national model for transparency.

Data Equity for Main Street by California State Library, Nevada State Library, Archives and Public Records, and State of Washington Technology Solutions ($470,000 | Project leads: Anne Neville, Daphne DeLeon and Will Saunders | California, Nevada and Washington): Promoting data literacy by training librarians and community members how to find, use and give advice on the power of open data.

Documents Empowerment Project by Goodcity Chicago ($250,000 | Project lead: Rose Afriyie and Genevieve Nielsen | Chicago): Helping low-income Americans prove their eligibility for public benefit programs by scaling a benefit program document database and discovery platform.

Law, Order and Algorithms: Making Sense of 100 Million Highway Patrol Stops by Stanford University ($310,000 | Project Leads: Sam Corbett-Davies, Sharad Goel, Vignesh Ramachandran, Ravi Shroff, Camelia Simoiu | Stanford, Calif.): Increasing transparency and accountability in law enforcement by compiling, analyzing and releasing a data set of more than 100 million highway patrol stops throughout the country.

PublicBits: Breaking Down Open Data Silos by U.S. Open Data ($420,000 | Project Lead: Karissa McKelvey | Oakland, Calif.): Developing a search engine that makes it easier for users to find and collect data from multiple sources and receive notifications when the data is out of date.

Security Force Monitor by The Human Rights Institute at Columbia University ($237,589 | Project lead: Tony Wilson | New York): Informing and advancing journalism, human rights and other public interest work by compiling and structuring public data on police, military and other security forces.

Weighing the Wisdom of the Crowd by Orb Media ($450,000 | Project leads: Heather Krause and Neal Rothleder | Washington, D.C.): Enabling anyone to survey the crowd and share reliable, credible results through the use of easy-to-use online tools that allow users to create more scientifically sound surveys.

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Written by:
Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@) or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.
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