Knight Foundation Funding for the BTV Civic Cloud Project

January 22, 2014

January 22, 2014
Contact: Lauren Glenn Davitian, 802-862- 3966 davitian [at] cctv [dot] org


National Foundation Funds Burlington’s Civic Cloud, Providing Public Internet Platform at Gigabit Speeds for Innovative Community Organizers, Nonprofits and Civic Hackers

CCTV Center for Media & Democracy is delighted to announce that The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today that it has awarded a $35,000 Knight Prototype Fund grant to the Civic Cloud Collaborative. Launched by a group of eight local organizations to build a “Civic Cloud” on Burlington’s gigabit network, the project will be a tool for innovative community organizers, nonprofits and civic hackers to develop public, non-commercial Internet applications. The Knight Foundation grant will be used to construct a prototype of the Civic Cloud over the next six months.

The first of its kind, the Civic Cloud combines Burlington’s fiber-optic gigabit network and donated servers to build a public access Internet platform available to the community for non-commercial Internet applications and digital creative works.

The Civic Cloud takes advantage of Burlington Telecom’s gigabit Internet speeds—over 100 times the average national broadband speed. The Civic Cloud will complement the work of BTV Ignite, a partnership between US Ignite and the City of Burlington. BTV Ignite is an initiative to use Burlington’s gigabit infrastructure as a tool, testbed, and accelerator for economic, educational and community benefit.

The Civic Cloud Collaborative is comprised of Big Heavy World, CCTV Center for Media & DemocracyChannel 17 / Town Meeting Television, Code for BTV (a Code for America Brigade), Found Line, Laboratory BRegional Educational Technology Network (RETN), and Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM).

CCTV’s Lauren-Glenn Davitian adds: “We are so pleased to be working with our partners to pioneer the next generation of public, educational and government access. The Civic Cloud combines the best of our community media operations, Burlington Telecom’s publicly owned gigabit network, and innovative ideas into a new public resource that will soon become a local treasure and national model.”

Several initial applications will be deployed during the prototyping phase of the Civic Cloud. High-definition live streaming will be provided for community media outlets to webcast live public meetings and cultural events. WordPress websites will be hosted for several Vermont nonprofits including rescue squads, food shelves, job banks and historical societies. A collection of volunteer-developed applications and a state-of-the-art website deployed to the Civic Cloud will help Big Heavy World preserve and promote Vermont-made music. Lakecraft, an educational, multi-user game aimed at youth and adults that gamifies the Lake Champlain Basin, will also be one of the first applications to run on the Civic Cloud.

For more information, visit:

CCTV is especially excited to see the Civic Cloud project included with 24 others in what the Knight Foundation refers to as their "Prototype Fund."  The key here is making technology and data work for the public good. From Tracking and aggregating noise pollution data in Missouri; to an app in Kentucky that tracks popular bike routes for improved public infrastructure; in San Fransisco, an app for 'consumers' of social services to share their experiences and compile the data; and an app that tracks cases of food poisoning in Chicago, these are just a few examples of what people across the country are trying to do in the 'new frontier' of bits and bytes. 

The entire list of prototype fund awardees as compiled by Chris Barr for the Knight Foundation:

The 24 projects being announced today started their experience as Knight grantees with an intensive two-day workshop on design thinking led by LUMA Institute. While we don’t expect all of our grantees to all become expert design practitioners, the workshop provides a reminder and methods to build projects in the service of real people.

This isn’t just the beginning for these projects, however. We’re also looking ahead to the next round of Prototype Fund grants. Applications for the next round are due by Jan. 31, and it’s a chance for us to discover even more media and information experiments.

Within our Journalism and Media Innovation strategy, Prototype Fund grants enter at the beginning of a pipeline that has the potential to help grow and scale projects through follow-on funding. We reassemble the grantees at the end of the six-month grant period to share what they have learned with us and the public. Through this model, we hope to have more opportunity to accelerate projects, learn through experimentation and make more informed funding decisions.

Artefact: Advancing civic engagement by creating a Web-based deliberation tool that uses design strategies to promote problem solving and drive consensus among a group of diverse strangers.

Argos: Making news content easy to digest by building a design-driven news platform that aggregates and analyzes news stories and creates concise news backgrounders, including insights and connections regarding specific stories.

Bocoup: Conducting a survey and creating a guide identifying patterns and best practices for mobile data visualization.

Brown Bag Software: Revealing the challenges and constraints of building mass transit by creating a simulation app that allows the public to build model transit and land-use programs to better understand basic design and operational constraints.

CCTV Center for Media & Democracy: Using the Burlington, Vt., public gigabit network, in collaboration with the Code for BTV Code for America Brigade, to make cloud computing resources available for community-driven software applications that range from live interactive video of public meetings to civic apps that solve pressing community issues.

Civic Ninjas: Creating an application to help the public identify and visualize meaningful local health data through an accessible, fun interface inspired by Sunlight Foundation’s Sitegeist.

Data Driven Detroit: Informing the public and addressing important community issues by developing an interactive tool that helps Detroit residents discover and use relevant data about their city.

Farmers Market Coalition: Providing farmers markets with a Web application to easily and effectively collect, store and report data about the health impacts of their markets.

Fathom: Making complex zoning data accessible and actionable for the public by creating a website that will visualize details of Boston’s new rezoning ordinance for urban farming.

Forest Giant and Urban Design Studio: Creating LouLoops, a mobile app that maps bike routes and collects data so that local officials can officially plan infrastructure projects.

Global Sensor Web: Helping scientists and citizens collaborate and better monitor their environment through an online platform for aggregating geo-tagged data sets from public data sources and the onboard sensors of mobile phones.

HabitatMap: Empowering youth to help measure air quality and collect data by developing the next version of Kids Making Sense, a complete measurement sensing system and curriculum.

Keepr: Creating an open source data-mining tool for journalists to track breaking news stories, so they can easily find quality news sources.

Moneca Core: Making it easier to capture community-generated news by creating an open source code library to capture multimedia content by citizen journalists in mobile apps.

!nstant: Building a mobile app designed to verify and provide context to breaking news on social media so that the public is given a more accurate and clear picture of news stories.

One Degree: Helping people find community resources by developing a Web app that allows users to discover, track and share their experiences about social services.

Restatement: Making legal information more accessible by producing a design-driven system for the creation and parsing of machine-readable legal text.

Sexual Health Innovations: Providing up-to-date STD data by building an API to allow easy sharing of aggregate STD test data among clinics, health departments and the Centers for Disease Control to inform communities and help organizations mobilize resources to those in need.

Silent Spring Institute & MIT Media Lab: Making data easier to understand by creating multi-sensory, immersive and aesthetic experiences of environmental health indicators (example: sharing chemical exposure data with a community through a human-sized interactive bar chart).

Smart Chicago Collaborative: Using Twitter to identify potential cases of food poisoning in Chicago and encouraging individuals to report incidents of food poisoning.

The Center for Rural Strategies: Testing an approach to generate data-driven, localized news stories that media and other organizations in rural U.S. counties can use to produce local stories.

University of Missouri: Developing a system to collect and report noise data to better track problems of noise pollution in Columbia, Mo., that will be informed by community hacking events and prototype tests.

Vizzuality: Building an open source tool that allows journalists and other users to quickly turn data, maps and other content into interactive stories for online publication.

Zago: Seeking to make newsrooms more efficient by building a mobile app that will allow secure data sharing between reporters and their newsrooms.

Learn more about the Prototype Fund or submit a proposal by the Jan. 31 deadline.


For more information, contact: Lauren-Glenn Davitian, CCTV Center for Media & Democracy, davitian [at] cctv [dot] org, 802.862.1645 x12

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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

CCTV Center for Media & Democracy is home to Channel 17/Town Meeting TV, CCTV Productions and CommonGood VT. CCTV Center for Media & Democracy provides channels, tools and training for community-based organizations and activists to expand their reach and impact and make social change happen.