By Art Hanson on March 25th, 2013
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We’re pleased to have two proposals in this year’s Knight News Challenge:
Nation of Neighbors (NoN): Improving community welfare through collaborative knowledge
We’d like to use our existing location system to allow wiki style editing of important community resource information. This is probably one of the most requested features on NoN. While we’ll most likely try to implement this with or without support from the Knight Foundation, their support would enable us to build it much more quickly and would result in a better (and open-source) tool.
Nation of Neighbors (NoN): Facilitating Free Decentralized Sharing of Crime and Public Safety Data
There are currently several commercial companies that ‘own’ much of the Country’s crime data. While it’s great that this data is being made available to the public, this data would be more useful if it wasn’t locked away in proprietary databases. Generally, agencies use these commercial companies because of lower overall cost (as opposed to hiring additional staff) and ease of use. We believe that a competitive open source alternative can be created that would allow this data to be more accessible to the public. And would still be available to commercial interests as well. While NoN started out as a crime mapping service, I don’t think that this project would be incorporated into Nation of Neighbors. We would pursue this as a separate project in collaboration other interested developers.
By Art Hanson on March 13th, 2010
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We received our rejection notice from the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge yesterday. The good news, if there is any here, is that we were in good company. Some of my favorite proposals (other than ours, of course!) received rejection letters as well. I spent a few hours pondering whether or not we should have promoted NoN as an iPhone application, Drupal module or some other trendy technology meme. However, we submitted a good, solid proposal and gave it our best. We will continue to follow the plan outlined in our proposal. To everyone who took the time to help with the proposal, provided feedback and voted for us on the Knight Foundation site – you’ll never know how much I truly appreciate your support.
I also received a rejection notice regarding my speaking proposal for the Gov 2.0 Expo yesterday. Honestly, I submitted the proposal so long ago that I’d all but forgotten about it. I had hoped to speak about the unique challenges presented in promoting government / citizen interaction in rural America. Most of the speakers / projects are typically from major metropolitan areas. To be fair, they need speakers with name recognition to sell tickets. I’ll try again next year.
Then there’s the minor issue of me wasting 15 minutes of my time and not saving 15% on car insurance… But now I’m just complaining.
By Art Hanson on October 9th, 2009
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The following question was posted on our News Challenge application page. My answer is too long to fit in the comment section there, so I’m posting it on our blog instead.
This seems like a great concept. I’m just curious how you ensure that the reports of suspicious activity are”legitimate”? I hope this gets funded so that my community can sign up to use it.
Thanks Marsha! That’s a great question. It not only affects Nation of Neighbors, but many other attempts at ‘community’ networking, including several of the other proposed projects on the News Challenge website. There are several kinds of illegitimate reports we need to guard against.
The first, and easiest to identify and avoid, is spam. We relay reports to members in real time via both email and SMS – our report form is publicly available on the internet worldwide. We use multiple public and private blacklists, content filters and our report moderation scheme (reports from first time reporters must be reviewed by a report moderator prior to broadcast) to avoid spam.
False reports are more challenging. We have a filtering algorithm that assigns each incoming report a ‘trust’ index. We’ve developed this index based on reports – both true and untrue – that we’ve received over the past few years. The score is generated based on the content of the report and the users IP address as well as any history the user may have with Nation of Neighbors. This index is shown to the reviewer (for moderated reports) and a low score will push an otherwise unmoderated report into the moderation queue. There’s also the benefit that reports are only sent out locally. False reports are usually relatively easily identified by people actually living in the community and could be removed and the reporter blocked (by IP address) from making further reports.
Unallowed reports also represent a challenge. These are reports that, while possibly truthful, do not fit within the parameters of our mission or the intended purpose of our report system. This category includes things like “my neighbor is a jerk and never cuts his grass” or “my neighbor gave me the finger”. In the case that an established member (whose reports are broadcast immediately) would publish a report like this, they would likely lose their unmoderated reporting status – but that decision would be up to the local community admin – not us.
There’s also the occasional report that never goes public because of privacy concerns or because it might interfere with an investigation. These reports are sent to the appropriate authorities but not published immediately.
Of course, we currently have the advantage of relative obscurity. As our networks expand our report system will become a bigger target and we’ll have to further develop and refine our methods. This is one of the reasons we’re applying to the Knight Foundation for funding.