Sunday, August 09, 2009

Crowdsource Information Provides Insights in Africa

Ushahidi is a new program designed by a group of international developers to crowdsource information in crisis situations. People can send in texts, emails or fill out a webform to inform others on up to the minute information. The information Ushahidi receives is plotted on a map with time specific details.

The idea was developed when there was post election violence in Kenya. Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, was an answer to providing the outside world with reports of what was happening throughout the country. A team of four created this resource since they knew that mobile phones were widespread throughout Africa and people could communicate importance facts easily in this way.

Currently, Ushahidi is being used for programs such as Stop Stock-Outs. Researchers visit health institutions in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia to see which medicines are readily available and text the missing medications to Ushahidi, who plots them on a map. Other projects include TXTPower in the Philippines, Cuidemos el Voto mashup in Mexico and Peace Heroes in Kenya.
--Jessica Milstead