On 11 November at the iHub in Nairobi and streamed online, Ushahidi and iHub Research will present research projects that are currently underway, talk about the role of research at Ushahidi and the iHub, and extend an invitation to the research community to participate in a discussion about how we might collaborate in the future.
With over 20,000 deployments and growing, Ushahidi has become a rich resource to study crowdsourcing, online communities and the use of technology tools by the humanitarian relief, local government and election observation communities (to name a few). Ushahidi’s sister project, the iHub in Nairobi, is a similarly rich area of study – supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Nairobi and setting an example of African leadership in the development of local technology solutions.
Both organisations have a small research arm – with Ushahidi focusing on questions around how Ushahidi deployers manage verification, how other open online communities like Wikipedia manage and debate sources, as well as patterns in Crowdmap deployment data. iHub Research, on the other hand, is looking at questions around the impact of ICT hub communities on members, how Nairobi cyber cafes are managing to remain profitable while the cost of Internet access has declined, as well as how mobile apps might offer a way to increase citizen participation in government and as a tool for more effective public service delivery.
As open source organisations committed to the communities we serve, Ushahidi and iHub Research are using this seminar as an opportunity to engage with the research community on areas of common interest. We will present the highlights of our research, cover issues around the role of research in our organisations, the methods that we’re using, the challenges that we face and the things we’re learning. We’ll then open it up to the audience for questions and comments on how we might collaborate in the future. Speakers include Jessica Colaço, Angela Crandall from iHub Research and Heather Ford and Patrick Meier from Ushahidi, as well as Ushahidi Research Intern, Maria Grabowski Kjær.
If you’re interested in joining the conversation, please sign up at the Meetup group and join the Ushahidi research mailing list to introduce yourself and your research interests so that we have a better idea of who we all are and where our collective interests lie. Otherwise, we’ll see you at 16:00 EAT on 11 November!
Jessica Colaço is the Research Lead and Manager at iHub – Nairobi’s Tech Innovation Hub. She is passionate about Innovation, Research, Mobile Technology and Mentorship and Entrepreneurship in Kenya as she uses her position at iHub to court local, regional and international stakeholders to adopt Kenyan-made solutions. Jessica is also a Mobile Technology Evangelist, Founder of Mobile Boot Camp Kenya, Co-founder of AkiraChix and a Bass guitarist in Nairobi, Kenya. She was named one of the top 40 women under 40 years in Kenya’s business scene by Business Daily on 2009 and 2011. She has organized several Mobile Boot Camps in Kenya as well as the first Facebook Developer Garage in Kenya in 2008. She has been featured by CNN Labs, Wired UK and other mainstream media.
Angela Crandall As iHub Research Project Manager, Angela’s main role is to coordinate and plan for the various iHub Research projects. Angela joined the iHub community in October 2010, and is passionate about innovation, especially in the agricultural sector; SME development; and the appropriate use of IT. Angela has been involved in corporate outreach to engage businesses in dialogue on sustainability at the World Wildlife Fund (Washington, DC, USA). She has experience working with infoDev, a global development financing program, housed by the World Bank; the US State Department; and start-ups such as MFarm. Angela studied international environmental issues at Georgetown University (USA) and recently completed a Fulbright research fellowship in Kenya looking at the use of SMS by farmers.
Heather Ford, Ushahidi Ethnographer, studies how online communities get together to learn, play and deliberate. She is currently studying how online communities work together to verify information collected from social media sources and how new technology might be designed to help them do this better. Heather recently graduated from the UC Berkeley iSchool where she studied the social life of information in schools, educational privacy and Africans’ on Wikipedia. She is a former Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board member and the former Executive Director of iCommons – an international organisation started by Creative Commons to connect the open education, access to knowledge, free software, open access publishing and free culture communities around the world.
Patrick Meier (PhD) is an internationally recognized thought leader on the application of new technologies for crisis early warning, humanitarian response, human rights and civil resistance. He currently serves as Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi, a non-profit technology company voted by MIT’s Technology Review as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world alongside Facebook, Google and Twitter. He co-founded the International Network of Crisis Mappers and previously co-directed Harvard University’s Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning. In addition, Patrick has consulted for major international organizations including the UN, OSCE, OECD and the World Bank on numerous cutting-edge projects in Africa, Asia and Europe over the past 10 years.
Maria Grabowski Kjær, Ushahidi Research Intern, is a MSc student in Social Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. In her current field study, Maria explores how users of Ushahidi communicate, organize and mobilize as a network online, and how this type of ‘cyberactivism’ propagates to people on the ground. Maria writes for Global Voices Online and also contributes to the monthly Global Voices Podcast. She is the web editor of a Danish environmental organisation, Forests of the World, that fights for sustainable use of the world’s forests. Maria’s fundamental interest is in people and society, social change and human rights – and her passion is to document in photo and sound.