Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hope from Testimony

Kenyan company Ushahidi is a free, open source or shared platform designed to crowdsource (use a community or large group of people to accomplish particular goals), amass and map crisis information from numerous sources in real time, including via text message, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, media sources and e-mail. Ushahidi can thus track real-time information, but it also puts that information into context by aggregating, categorizing and mapping what has been reported. In Haiti, Ushahidi introduced the 4636 SMS short code so individuals there could send free text messages with their location and need, and to report emergency information. Ushahidi’s technology has also helped citizen participation initiatives and monitoring in elections in India, Argentina, Mozambique and Venezuela. But in addition to reporting vote-tampering, it can also be used to report violence, or any event or incident. In Russia in August, for example, it was used to establish a “map of help” to solicit volunteers needed after the wildfires, and it has been used in the USA to track crime in Atlanta. In its own words, “Ushahidi builds tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories.”