The implementation of Ushahidi by the Foko Madagascar team presents the mapping community with an opportunity to see solutions where there are challenges.
After the mapping area was set up for Foko to use, it was a challenge to set up a local SMS hub with a mobile phone and computer, so Lova Rakotomalala, who is based in the US and the FrontlineSMS team in UK went about finding a solution. That solution came in the form of IntelliSMS, a web based SMS service.
Even though the Foko Madagascar implementation uses a UK number with a cost implication, it shows that a hub can be set up without needing any mobile devices, which in some cases will make it quicker, particularly in the first few days of responding to a crisis.
This is how it works right now.
Someone can SMS from a Madagascar number going to the UK number +447800000197, the message is converted to an email, FrontlineSMS is fed that email and it then posts to Ushahidi using the sync feature.
This shows that collaboration with citizen journalists can happen globally, and information about a crisis can be presented to the rest of the world rather quickly despite problems setting up a local hub.
Here is a link to a video where Mialy Andriamananja explains what type of citizen journalists there are in Madagascar, and Lova goes over the genesis of the Rising Voices Foko
blogging outreach as well as the collecting/filtering process of
information for the Ushahidi project in Madagascar. The video also features prominently other non-Foko twitterers who contributed
immensely to distribution of information during the ongoing crisis: Thierry Ratsizehena and Thierry Andriamitandro.
For more on Foko, please check out the rising voices blogs on Global voices and the Foko Madagascar website. Global voices is continuing to track the situation in Madagascar, by aggregating all information on this special page.