Ushahidi: Made in Africa


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TechSoup Global and Guardian Seminar: Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life seminar. Presentation by Nathaniel Manning, Director of Business Development and Strategy at Ushahidi illustrated how they use crowdsourcing, big data and the opensource tools they have developed to help with disaster relief, political accountability and other development issues. Mobile phones were identified as one of the key ways that data is provided and collected in developing countries.

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  • My name Nathaniel Manning, and the Director of Business Strategy and Development at Ushahidi I ’ m going to start with some history about the platform, share a few key deployments, then highlight important innovations coming up in the next year.
  • Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili. It was formed during the 2008 Kenyan elections violence. The aim of Ushahidi is to make a centralized location of real-time data by gathering information from many pairs of eyes on the ground and give it the helpful context of when and where.
  • Our global team is led by our visionary founders. And we have been honored to receive some amazing recognition.
  • Ushahidi is open source software to collection and visualize information on a map. Open source means the code is free and publicly available for anyone to use. 1) Platform - open source, customizable, localizable, anyone can build upon it 2) Community - global conversation all working towards a common goal 3) Movement - help empower disadvantaged groups by giving them a voice
  • The mission of Ushahidi is to change the way information flows in the world
  • Our software has been used in some very large deployments, one of the largest being the tsunami in Japan last year.
  • Ushahidi is a data collection tool. It allows for the collection of information from many channels, and the give context and value to that data by placing it onto an interactive map and on a timeline
  • We are completely integrated with mobile.
  • The data path for Haiti and Japan might look complicated, but was highly efficient. Data in fact saved lives here.
  • We have learned a few few lessons in our time gathering crowdsourced data. One key lesson is, a successful map takes more than just deploying code to the server. It actually requires a lot outreach, branding, promotion, monitoring and an effective process.
  • Second lesson is called ‘the pothole theory’ meaning that a news of a pothole being filled on your street might be be extremely interesting, but news of a pothole being filled on a street in the other part of town could be extremely boring. When using data to build a story, it has to be either specifically targeted to a group, or broad enough to speak to many.
  • To gather data, you need to build trust amongst your users.
  • Crowdmap let’s anyone build a map, it takes 3 minutes, and you don’t need to be the least bit technical.
  • Ushahidi ’s software is built to scale. We have grown to over 22,000 deployments of our software. We know how to manage a lot of data.
  • We have scaled our products across multiple platforms, languages. The growth of this data is helping Ushahidi to build a database of real-time information around the world. We map the intangible, transitory part of the world that happens ontop of the brick&mortar, Google Maps of the world.
  • Our platform has been used in many ways. We build products that are flexible and adaptable.
  • The platform has been used for Election Monitoring. Vote Report India and U-cha-gu-zee in Kenya are two examples.
  • Our software has been used in ways beyond our imagination.
  • We do custom deployments for clients who want to hire our team - because we developed the software, so we can confidently say we are the best at creating custom versions of our own products.
  • Our mission is to change the way information flows in the world.
  • We invite you to join us in exploring the potential of crowdsourcing and collaborative curation using SwiftRiver. Thank you.
  • Swiftriver is Ushahidi ’ s newest product
  • At Ushahidi we have dealt with huge amounts of data, we know how difficult it is to manage. We call it “ The Burning House Problem: ” Say you get 400 texts that say “ That house is on fire! ” and 1 that says “ Help! I am in the house. ” How do you make sure that one text isn ’ t lost in the shuffle? We have all missed an important email in our times.
  • So we created Swiftriver to filter and organize real-time information.
  • Real-time information is processed by the combination of computer intelligence, human ingenuity, and the power of the crowd. Then it is presented in visually digestible formats.
  • The idea is that you can go from a crowd of people taking photos to a organized, curated experience of information. You can visualize the info in a photo gallery, in a list, on a timeline, on a map, or with analytics.
  • For Example: We use a River to represent all the data coming at us. We create a river by setting the channels that flow into it, say we set the AP and BBC Sports RSS feeds and the #Olympics hashtag. We can consume video, pictures, and text.
  • Then we can filter our river of information into a stream by searching for keywords, geolocations, or timelines.
  • You can visualize the data in many ways. In a photo gallery, in a list, on a map, or with analytics.
  • Our key differentiation is collaboration . Like with Google Docs, a team can organize a river of information into tags and buckets.
  • For instance: a team could collaboratively curate information into buckets labelled “ Kenya Runners ” or “ Opening ceremony ”
  • Ushahidi: Made in Africa

    1. 1. Nathaniel Manning
    2. 2. (c)Yasuyoshi Chiba
    3. 3. Founding TeamMIT Tech Review’s Top TED Senior Fellow, Pop! 35 under 35. World Economic Forum Tech Fellow. FastCompany’s ‘Most ICT Global Council TIME Top 50 websites creative People’
    4. 4. What is Ushahidi? Open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping. We build tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories.Platform Community Movement
    5. 5. Changing the wayinformation flows
    6. 6. Massive Deployments March 2011 - 4,000+ reportsMonitor fallout of tsunami and nuclear crisis
    7. 7. Mobile Free and open source SMS gateway for Androidthedefault Whitelabeling ofdevice Android and iOS apps
    8. 8. Lessons Crowdsourcing platform must be easy to deploy, intuitive to use,simple to localize and customize “A map is only asuseful as the processand people to make it happen.”-George Chamales, Rogue Genius
    9. 9. Pothole Theory(CCby:
    10. 10. The common denominator for successful is trust.
    12. 12. Growth & Scale
    13. 13. Citizen Communities Journalism By the City / For the City (NYC) Integration of social media into placemaking practices, December 2010 which are community centered, encouraging publicHelp bring awareness to sexual harassment in Egypt participation, collaboration and transparency.
    14. 14. Election MonitoringMay 2009 - 202 reports, 20,000 views August 2010 - 1525 reports, 20,000 viewsAllow citizen reporting during election Monitor Kenya referendum election
    15. 15. Limitless Creativity
    16. 16. “The crowdsourced information keeps people which regular news outlets are often too bulky or slow to act...” - FastCompany
    17. 17. Thank
    18. 18. APPENDIX
    19. 19. ANALYSING DATA
    20. 20. We have a Problem We are pummeled by information 250 million Tweets/dayHow do we find the one important drop of info?
    21. 21. SwiftRiver is a curation tool that combines search with the power of the crowdComputer Intelligence The Human Hunch + Curate. Filter. Collaborate.
    22. 22. CrowdSource the FilterReal-time information. Processed into a river. Filtered by the crowd. Visualized & organized.
    23. 23. From This To This