Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas.

Throughout 2012, innovators from all industries and countries are invited to participate in three challenge rounds, each with focused topics on emerging trends.

Round 1 - on networks - is closed, and the winners will be announced June 18.

Round 2 - on data - will be open May 31 - June 21. We’re looking for new ways of collecting, understanding, visualizing and helping the public use the large amounts of information generated each day. Winners will be announced in late September.

Details on Round 3 will available later this year.

Anyone, anywhere can apply for the challenge - whether for-profit start-ups or non-profit ventures. For more information on a variety of topics - from guidelines for for-profits, on intellectual property licensing, open source software and more - visit our FAQ.

Tethr: Evolving networks

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1. What do you propose to do? [20 words]

An easy to use wireless hotspot and server that utilizes varied existing networks to improve information dissemination in untethered environments.

2. Is anyone doing something like this now and how is your project different? [30 words]

Some solutions exist for disaster communications, but none are as comprehensive. Tethr combines many functions into a single unit while being lightweight, powered by any source, and remaining very easy to use.

3. Describe the network with which you intend to build or work. [50 words]

Tethr enables universal worldwide wireless communications through any available network. It combines multiple wireless communication methods with local applications that can be run anywhere in the world. It lets people work offline and syncs data with the cloud when a connection is available.

4. Why will it work? [100 words]

Tethr lets people use complicated things like GSM base stations, file servers and worldwide 3G connections without knowing anything about the underlying technology. Our users turn on Tethr, answer a couple of simple questions on a web page and are then set up with the applications, services and connectivity they need.


  1. Users don’t have to change computers or phones or install any software to create a local public information hub in a disaster situation.
  2. Journalists upload photos and videos to Tethr and know that the files will be synchronized to the cloud, allowing them to continue to work uninterrupted.

5. Who is working on it? [100 words]

Our team’s background in communications, user experience, IT and disaster relief gives us a unique ability to build a device and services based on open source software and proven off-the-shelf hardware.

Aaron Huslage has been working on crisis response since 2005 when he helped build wireless networks after Hurricane Katrina. He is our chief idea guy and inspiration.

Roger Weeks is a professional nerd who has been building community and service provider wireless networks since 2000. He is feverishly working on getting our prototype perfected.

Darci Shaver specializes in nonviolent communication and provides the human connection piece of Tethr’s overall mission.

6. What part of the project have you already built? [100 words]

We have a lightweight, portable prototype that runs off of DC power, provides local Wi-Fi, uses a 3G network for Internet access, and integrates with satellite or any other ethernet-based connection. We have integrated the open source GSM base station OpenBTS allowing us to send text messages directly into Ushahidi.

The prototype gives local users access to Ushahidi and a local installation of OpenStreetMaps, allowing immediate collection of crowdsourced reports. The unit also includes basic file synchronization.

This device has been field tested and the need has been verified with constituencies like journalists, NGOs, and the public sector.

7. How would you sustain the project after the funding expires? [50 words]

We will manufacture at least 100 production units with the initial funding. Sales of these units and the services around them will allow us to continue development and production.

Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: $750,000

Expected amount of time required to complete project: 6-12 months

Total Project Cost: $1,500,000

Name: Aaron Huslage
Twitter: @huslage
Organization: Tethr, @tethrbox
Country: United States

People Who Liked This Post

  1. alinachereches reblogged this from newschallenge1
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    Tethr entered the Knight News Challenge. Please reblog, like and comment. Help us get funding!
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