|Founder(s)||Erik Hersman, Ory Okolloh, Juliana Rotich, David Kobia|
|Tax ID No.||2652079|
|Key people||Erik Hersman, Juliana Rotich, David Kobia,|
|Method||mapping and geospatial|
|Motto||Crowdsourcing Crisis Information|
Ushahidi, Inc. is a non-profit software company that develops free and open source software (LGPL) for information collection, visualisation and interactive mapping.
Ushahidi (Swahili for "testimony" or "witness") created a website (http://legacy.ushahidi.com) in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election (see 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis) that collected eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a Google Maps map.
The organisation uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as 'activist mapping' – the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information. Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events.
The Ushahidi platform is built on the Kohana web framework, a fork of the CodeIgniter framework. It includes built-in support for Nexmo wholesale SMS API and Clickatell SMS gateways. Furthermore, the official Ushahidi-hosted websites use the commercial service. Ushahidi provides the option of using OpenStreetMap maps in its user interface, but requires the Google Maps API for geocoding. Ushahidi is often set up using a local SMS gateway created by a local FrontlineSMS set-up. This video provides a good overview on how the platform is being used around the world.
Releases & codenames
- 1.0 Mogadishu – 10 December 2009
- 1.2 Haiti – ~22 January 2010
- 2.0 Luanda – 22 November 2010
- 2.1 Tunis – 9 August 2011
- 2.2 Juba – 13 March 2012
- 2.3 Juba – 24 April 2012
SwiftRiver is a suite of intelligence and real-time data gathering products that complement Ushahidi's mapping and visualisation products. Often referred to as the SwiftRiver Initiative the goal of the project is "to democratize access to the tools for making sense of information".
SwiftRiver is a free and open source platform that helps people make sense of a lot of information in a short amount of time. It was born out of the need to understand and act upon a wave of massive amounts of crisis data that tends to overwhelm in the first 24 hours of a disaster. There has been a great deal of interest in Swift for other industries such as newsrooms, political analysts and marketers as an open source alternative to more expensive, proprietary intelligence software platforms. The SwiftRiver platform offers applications which combine natural language/artificial intelligence process, data-mining for SMS and Twitter, and verification algorithms for different sources of information.
SwiftRiver has three primary functions: 1. to structure unstructured data 2. conditional filtering and prioritisation of real-time content and 3. adding context (ex. location)
SwiftRiver is commonly mistaken to be an application, when in fact it is a platform consisting of APIs. There are several applications powered by Swift, most notably Sweeper which was designed specifically as a complimentary product to Ushahidi's mapping products.
Crowdmap is designed and built by the team behind Ushahidi, a platform that was originally built to crowdsource crisis information. As the platform has evolved, so have its uses. Crowdmap now allows users to set up their own deployments of Ushahidi without having to install it on a web server. Since its release in 2010, prominent deployments of Crowdmap have documented the global "Occupy" protests and the 2011 London anti-cuts protest.
On 31 December 2010 the Ushahidi team announced Crowdmap: Checkins, a geosocial add-on to Crowdmap that allows users to create a white-label alternative to sites like Foursquare and Gowalla. Rather than filling out submission forms online, checkins allow Crowdmap users to expedite data entry to their deployment, focussing first on location and adding more detailed information later. Ushahidi describes the effort as "checkins with a purpose."
Beginnings in Kenya
Ushahidi.com (Swahili for "testimony" or "witness") is a website created in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election (see 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis) that collected eyewitness reports of violence sent in by email and text-message and placed them on a Google map. It is also the name of the open source software developed for that site, which has since been improved, released freely, and used for a number of similar projects around the globe.
The Kenyan site was developed and run by several bloggers and software developers, all current or former residents of Kenya: Erik Hersman, Juliana Rotich, Ory Okolloh and David Kobia. The site was initially proposed by Okolloh, developed cheaply, and put online within a few days. International media, government sources, NGOs, and Kenyan journalists and bloggers were used to verify eyewitness testimony. The site was later also used to facilitate donations from abroad.
An analysis by the Kennedy School of Government found that Ushahidi was better overall at reporting acts of violence as they began. The data collected by Ushahidi was superior to that reported by the mainstream media in Kenya at the time. The service was also better at reporting non-fatal violence as well as information coming in from rural areas.
Post-Kenya crisis uses
Soon after its initial use in Kenya, the Ushahidi software was used to create a similar site to track anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, UnitedforAfrica.co.sa in May 2008. The software has since been used to map violence in eastern Congo, beginning in November 2008. Ushahidi is used in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zambia in June 2009 to track pharmacy stockouts in several East African countries. Finally, it was used to monitor elections in Mexico and India, among other projects. It was also used by Al Jazeera to collect eyewitness reports during the 2008–2009 Gaza War.
In 2010, due to the earthquake in Haiti, Patrick Meier launched a joint effort between Ushahidi, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, UN OCHA/Colombia and the International Network of Crisis Mappers (CM*Net) started the Haiti implementation. A few hours later many humanitarian/tech workers joined this initiative. Nearly 40000 independent reports were sent to the Ushahidi Haiti Project of which nearly 4000 distinct events were plotted.
Only a month after the Haiti earthquake, the 2010 earthquake in Chile prompted Patrick Meier to launch Ushahidi-Chile within hours of the initial quake. The Chile site is co-managed with the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University in the US, supported by Chilean Americans.
Ushahidi was used in Russia to set up a "map of help" for voluntary workers needed after the wildfires.
Using Ushahidi, the Christchurch Recovery Map website was launched less than 24 hours after the 22 February earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. The site maps locations of services such as food, water, toilets, fuel, ATMs, and medical care. Information is gathered via Twitter messages using the #eqnz hashtag, SMS messages and email. The site was founded by a group of web professionals, and maintained by volunteers.
- Middle East
This software allowed pro-democracy demonstrators across the Middle-East to organise and communicate what was happening around them in early 2011 On Tuesday, 2 March, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requested that the The Standby Volunteer Task Force be activated for Libya. The Task Force's Tech Team set up a password protected Ushahidi platform almost immediately and several days later launched a public version at OCHA's request. This allowed users to contribute relevant information about ground conditions as they occurred.
India•CR – India Citizen Reports runs on Ushahidi since 2011 to collect and disseminate reports in various categories like civic problems, crimes and corruption. TelecomMap.com uses Ushahidi to map 3G network quality and Wi-Fi hotspots.
Ushahidi is used in Japan to help through multiple tragedies. The Japan Recovery Map website is in Japanese.
- United States
Transparency Watch Project is using the Ushahidi platform to track corruption reported cases in Republic of Macedonia. PrijaviKorupcija is a joint project by Transparency International – Macedonia and the Center for International Relations allowing citizens to report cases of corruption via ONE (Mobile Operator) by sending SMS from their mobile phones, sending an email, using the web form, the hashtag #korupcijaMK on Twitter or by reporting on the phone.
- Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia)
On iDitord platform Ushahidi was used for monitoring of parliamentary elections on 6 May.
Ankashar.am is an anti corruption map of higher education system in Armenia.
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- "Stepping Down as Ushahidi Executive Director".
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- [2.pdf "Independent Evaluation of the Ushahidi Haiti Project"].
- Net puts Kenya at centre of Chile rescue efforts, Jonathan Fildes, BBC News, 1 March 2010
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- "Who's Behind This?". Snowmageddon: The Clean Up. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- ABC's crowdsourced flood-mapping initiative abc.net
-  Snjezna oluja nad Balkanom