In the coming weeks and months Ushahidi will be launching several initiatives; and I would like to take this opportunity to give you a high level view of the main things we have in store, and some of the considerations we are keeping in mind as we continue laying down code, working on projects and doing outreach.
Community: It has been incredibly gratifying to see Ushahidi grow from an ad-hoc group of techies in Kenya and the diaspora to what it is today. The developer community has grown in leaps in bounds, with many direct contributors and 150 forks of the code on Github. This is something we celebrate and invite more developers to join us. Our community has grown to include deployers, researchers doing evaluations, designers, volunteers and most of all tinkerers. The tech community in Kenya has also grown in leaps and bounds, with the iHub as the connector and incubator, this is something we will be celebrating as the 1 year anniversary comes up; and committed to working on in the coming year. In a few days, we will be launching a community page and we’d like to welcome you to share how you are using the tools that Ushahidi creates. An announcement will be made on this blog and on our twitter page.
The Technology & Services: The Ushahidi platform is a continuing work in progress, where we will continue to fix bugs that arise and have a roadmap for the features to be included in the next release. Do check out the Luanda version released in November of 2010, which offers so much more than previous versions of the platform, most notably the ability to use different plugins and themes. We will be running a theming competition in the near future, so designers, start tinkering with the platform! We continue to translate the platform and invite you to help us by signing up for an account on Tafsiri (our translation platform).
Crowdmap is the cloud based service of Ushahidi, which offers an easily deployable way to not collect, aggregate and visualize data. The number of crowdmap deployments have grown, with uses that continually surprise and delight us as we see people trying out the platform. Expect several exciting initiatives (think Mobile!) from our Crowdmap and mobile development team.
Mobile Apps have always been part and parcel of not only the Ushahidi platform, but also part of the strategy as the tools are used around the world. The iPhone, Android and mobile apps are already in use, and we are working hard on getting a Java app rewritten for use on Blackberry and other Java enabled phones. The mobile development team is continually responding to feedback and updating the various mobile apps.
SwiftRiver – our platform that helps to make sense of a lot of information in a short amount of time. In practice, SwiftRiver enables the filtering and verification of real-time data from channels like Twitter, SMS, Email and RSS feeds. The SwiftRiver platform offers organizations an easy way to apply semantic analysis and verification algorithms to different sources of information. We will be making announcements soon as to the progression of this very important tool and providing a new version of the ‘Sweeper’ product amongst others.
Consulting and custom work: In January, Erik delineated our strategic focus for the year, and in it he mentioned our ability to do custom work and do joint partnerships that touch on some or all of the tools that Ushahidi develops. This is something that is already in play and we shall continue to work with our joint partners to realize projects that range from short government transparency initiatives like Huduma.info, to real-time data dashboards for newsrooms just to name a few.
It is already an exciting year for us at Ushahidi, being listed on Technology Review’s 50 most innovative companies of 2011 is a great honor for us.
We invite you to join us, collaborate and learn along with us as we change how information flows!