Sunlight Foundation to Launch "National Data Apps" with grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Sunlight Foundation will create a series of new “National Data Apps” that will help residents easily use federal data to better understand everything from local pollution and medical care to personal financial services.

At the click of a website or a tap on a smart phone, the apps will provide free access to public data that the government collects on the environment, public health and consumer spending, among other areas.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is funding the effort with a $1.2 million grant as part of its strategy to advance informed and engaged communities.

“Government in the digital age could be more open than ever – but only if we can make public information easy to find and use – like these applications promise to do,” said Eric Newton, Knight Foundation’s vice president for journalism.

“The Sunlight Foundation seeks to promote greater access to data from federal agencies for use at the national, state and local levels,” said Ellen Miller, cofounder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “These new apps will give the public unprecedented access to critical information that will bring us a step closer to closing the transparency gap in Washington.”

The Knight Foundation grant, disbursed over the course of two years, will support the development, distribution and marketing of the apps, as well as the expansion of Sunlight Live (http://sunlightfoundation.com/live), a real-time accountability platform that combines streaming video, government transparency data, journalistic background and social media coverage of major events in Washington.

Sunlight Labs, the organization’s in-house technology team, will design the National Data Apps and issue reports on the government’s track record of making this kind of data available to the public. Additionally, Sunlight’s Reporting Group will train journalists, bloggers and other members of the media on how to use the National Data Apps when they are launched in early-2011.

Previously, Knight Foundation awarded Sunlight a two-year grant of $565,000 to support the creation and marketing of open-source programs to provide journalists and citizens with integrated information on Congress, including its free Politiwidgets (http://Politiwidgets.com).

The Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit http://SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including http://PoliticalPartyTime.org and http://TransparencyData.com.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org

Contact:
Gabriela Schneider
gschneider@sunlightfoundation.com
(202) 742-1520, ext. 236

Marc Fest
Fest@KnightFoundation.org
(305
) 908-2677

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Photo from Flickr.com by Justin Grimes

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. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.