What Ushahidi Has Learned in the Past Year

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Facilitated by Patrick Meier, Ushahidi

Session Description

Ushahidi is a mobile platform with a range of practical applications. Over the past the year, Ushahidi has been deployed to support relief efforts in Haiti and Chile as well as a number of other contexts. Growth and uptake have been rapid, and Ushahidi has learned a lot while keeping pace with new demands. Patrick will demonstrate the platform and share learnings from the past year in an interactive, question-driven session.

Session Notes

Background:

- Ushahidi is a Swahili word meaning testimony

- Started in a violent contested election in Kenya to get realtime data out

- People could text sms messages with events and locations, which where then mapped

- It was recreated as an open source php application

The past year:

- The Haiti earthquake struck in Haiti, and they got a site up in two hours

- They started off as a person-finder, but passed that off to Google

- In addition to text messages, they were pulling in Twitter and blog data

- People were texting from buildings that they were trapped in

- Until Haiti they were acting like a tech startup with a sense of urgency

- Now they are moving towards greater accountability and partnership with larger organizations

- Haiti showed that they needed to go beyond what they were doing before

- You can go see reports at http://haiti.ushahidi.com/

- After Haiti, they respsponded in Chile

- They worked in Afghanistan during the recent elections

Going forwards:

- Will be releasing Ushahidi 2.0 which has a plugin architecture

- Focusing on forming a community behind the technology http://community.ushahidi.com

- Education and community are the only functional early perparation systems

- Verification is one of the biggest hurdles, working with local partners is important

- There is a manual process of verification and evaluation before data goes on the live site

- The internal workflow is very important in any response

- They are developing an application to pull important messages from twitter amongst the noise

- Looking to do more with the data including storytelling and multimedia presentations

- They have not yet worked with photos, but are looking to get into more storytelling and usage after the fact

- They released http://crowdmap.com as a cloud based platform for organizations to use


Summary:

- it was an introduction to Ushahidi and its crisis mapping application

- its background, past year and Haiti, and future development plans

- looking to create a community, not only around the software, but also translators and project managers

- want to go beyond the crisis response into citizen journalism and storytelling