Ad Hawk, an app that identifies the funders of political ads, was presented at a problem definition session for RHoK, prototyped at RHoK Philadelphia, picked up and funded by the Sunlight Foundation, and has now been downloaded thousands of times. The code is completely open source, and you can build it for your own community or country.
RHoK Success Stories: Ad Hawk
It is election time in the United States, which means that US citizens are flooded by partisan political advertising. The financial backers of these ads are often unclear. This is important because the backers of an advertisement change the tone and context of the ad, as well as an individual's understanding of the financing organization. To help people navigate the myriad of political ad funding, RHoKstar Bob Lannon created Ad Hawk.
While the idea for Ad Hawk had been brewing in Bob's brain for a long time, he brought it to life at a Hacks/Hackers meeting in Philadelphia that was devoted to defining and refining problem statements for Random Hacks of Kindness.
Development of Ad Hawk began a few weeks later at RHoK Philadelphia in December 2011. A team assembled with the idea of using audio identification technology to match ads on the radio or TV to a database of fact checking and funding information. After the event, Bob knew there was potential in the prototype and began reaching out to organizations who might be interested in supporting further development. Sunlight Foundation, a DC-based non-partisan nonprofit focused on transparency and accountability in government, realized the potential as well and hired Bob to continue working on the app.
As a result, Ad Hawk was launched in the crucial period prior to the Democratic and Republican national conventions. It has received a massive amount of media coverage and has been downloaded thousands of times.
So, what now? Ad Hawk is a success, but that doesn't mean it is done. Bob has identified a series of additions he is working on, but the thing he'd like to see the most is the app recreated in different locations.
Ad Hawk is an open source project, meaning anyone can take the code and build it for their own community, state or country. It currently only looks at federal elections in the US, but that doesn't mean it can't be built for a local election in upstate New York or a parliamentary election in India. Perhaps you can even begin your own version of Ad Hawk at a RHoK event this December!