Back in the fall of 2008, my friend Kaushal Jhalla introduced me to an exciting open source project called Ushahidi that was developing a platform for mapping crisis information. Ushahidi, which means “testimony” in Swahili, was initially created to map reports of violence in Kenya following the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. The website proved to be a valuable tool in citizen journalism allowing people in areas of conflict to report incidents of both violence and peace efforts via the web and mobile phone.
The co-founders Erik Hersman, Juliana Rotich, Ory Okolloh, David Kobia and Henry Addo realized the need to turn their website into a platform, so it could be used by others around the world. Their open source platform has since grown and now deployed around the world for such efforts as tracking the outbreak of H1N1, monitor elections in Sudan and Mexico and most recently used to monitor the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Ushahidi also played a crucial role in the Haiti earthquake response efforts, in particular it’s partnership with Samasource and FrontlineSMS to establish Mission 4636.
The Ushahidi team continues to inspire and amaze me. So, it is a great honor to ‘officially’ join the team as Mobile Project Manager. I will be helping to coordinate their fleet of mobile apps, both by contributing and working with developers from around the world. On the agenda, release of the long-awaited Ushahidi iPhone app, updates to current the Windows Mobile, Android and J2ME mobile apps and the development of the elusive Ushahidi BlackBerry app.
If you have any ideas or would like to contribute to one of these projects, please contact me.