Ushahidi’s Crowdsourced Data Informs Private Sector, Policymakers

EcoCitizen Crowdmap

Visit the EcoCitizen World Map at ecocitizen.crowdmap.com.

Ushahidi, one of the 2012 GAIN Prize recipients, continues to grow and make an impact on the world.

IMG_9678Nathaniel Manning, Director of Business Development and Strategy, said the open-source, open-data Ushahidi platforms are used in many ways to crowdsource data from around the world. Manning accepted the 2012 GAIN Prize for Ushahidi’s work to help the world adapt through engaging the private sector and policymakers with its projects.

For example, the EcoCitizen World Map launched to help plan future infrastructure development in communities through gathering more qualitative and quantitative data; this ensures it will serve the people for the long run. Manning and his team presented this project at Rio+20 in Brazil.

The tool combines maps, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and engineering and architecture 3-D modeling tools. 

“We are using our tool at Ushahidi to build a groundswell of information from people who live in certain places,” Manning said. “It is about their neighborhood and experience. We come in to help track and map it over time to better inform policy makers and the private sector.” 

Since the pilot began in August, Manning said the project has been developing through crowdsourced contributions and Ushahidi and its partners are in the process of seeking Phase II project funding. 

Ushahidi partnered with EcoCity Builders and Esri, which led the GIS efforts in creating the online platform.  

“It was a good impetus to begin that relationship,” Manning said. “We put together a first draft and in Rio we went to a community organization and mapped while we were there and what the information is about their community.”

The long-term goal is to provide ratings and information on local challenges, but allow people to view the crowdsourced map at a global scale to compare and contrast similar data.

About Ushahidi:

"Ushahidi", which means "testimony" in Swahili, was a website that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. Since then, the name "Ushahidi" has come to represent the people behind the "Ushahidi Platform". Our roots are in the collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis. The original website was used to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phones. This website had 45,000 users in Kenya, and was the catalyst for us realizing there was a need for a platform based on it, which could be used by others around the world.

Since early 2008 we have grown from an ad hoc group of volunteers to a focused organization. Our current team is comprised of individuals with a wide span of experience ranging from human rights work to software development. We have also built a strong team of volunteer developers primarily in Africa, but also Europe, South America and the U.S.