[Guest blog post by Anahi Ayala Iacucci, an international consultant and professional crisis mapper. She has worked on dozens of Ushahidi deployments and blogs at Diary of a Crisis Mapper]
Exactly a year ago, I started to work on my first Ushahidi platform. I knew little about the platform and in the course of the six months that followed the deployment of Ushahidi Chile I learned everything I could just by doing. I explored every single feature of the platform day by day, discovering what every single tab was, what I could do with it, how to modify the platform and how to use it. I would like to say I did it all by myself, but the truth is that my team and I had a the great support from the Ushahidi Haiti team that allowed us to work on the platform more than to learn the platform.
In the course of this past year I have been working on more than 20 Ushahidi platforms, sometimes just by getting on a call and advising some NGO on what they could do with it, how to set up the map, how to set up the sync with FrontlineSMS. Sometimes it was just by tweeting suggestions and tips to random people that I have never known in person.
Now, one year from my first step into the Ushahidi community, I feel it is the right time to condense all the knowledge collected in the course of this year by myself and my colleagues and share it with whoever wants to start their adventure into using the Ushahidi platform. For this reason, I am quite proud to announce the release of the Ushahidi Manual, a 90+ pages guide on everything you need to know to understand how to use the Ushahidi platform.
In the Manual you will find:
1. Introduction and installation guide
2. How to customize your platform (choosing a map, adding categories, etc.)
3. How to manage the incoming information (create and approve reports, register your reports, etc.)
4. How to look for information as a user of the platform
5. How to ask for help
I would love to see this as a work in progress: the Ushahidi platform is never the same, it keeps changing as the community growth with it, and so will this manual. For this reason, I will be particularly grateful to anyone who sends me their feedback on this manual at firstname.lastname@example.org. This will allow me to update the Manual and make it more useful for the users of the platform.
Of course, I could have never done this without a bunch of crazy people on my side:
1. Patrick Meier, who edited the guide page by page
2. Rob Baker, who co-edited the guide and wrote all the technical section I could have never done by myself,
3. The Ushahidi Dev. Team, who in the past year patiently answered to all my questions, doubts, requests, crazy e-mails and bugs reports, and in particular to Brian Herbert and David Kobia for being always responsive and ready to help
In closing, I just wanted to remind you that this is only a technical guide: as for the planning, organization, outreach and the other 90% of a Ushahidi project you still need to refer to the new Ushahidi Community Site, the Ushahidi community and of course to Ushahidi nerds like myself.