Angie and I are in Abu Dhabi for the Eye on Earth Summit. It has been a great conference so far, with a lot of discussion about greater access to environmental and social data for the conservation of the planet. What just happened a few moments ago left me and Angie speechless. We were at the technology showcase area speaking with different people who had questions about Ushahidi, its tools and uses around the world. Three gentlemen walked up, introduced themselves and we started talking about crowd sourcing. I was about to ask where they came from; and reading from the business cards they shared, they were from Afghanistan. As we talked a little more, they asked one question. Is there anyone using the platform in Afghanistan? We quickly started searching for this on our community website that lists Crowdmap deployments around the world, and recommended that he download the Ushahidi app on his mobile phone. This is because when he gets back to Afghanistan, he could fire up the app and get listings of deployments in his proximity. The deployment that came up in our search of the community site was this.
The Nangahar Connect deployment, which crowd sources information on commodity prices of beef, veal, milk, corn, wheat[Commodities], labour prices, service prices etc. This is a deployment that is well populated with information, run by the ministry of Agriculture and uses the Ushahidi Cloud based application (Crowdmap). What struck us about this deployment is first, the amount of data available. Substantial. Khalid Amini, the Manager of Geospatial services at Afghanistan Information Management Services AIMS commented that the data was accurate. We explored the map more on mobile by using the filter capability on the mobile app mentioned above. Mohammad Nasir Shir, The Executive Director of Gisworking.af explored with us and we found that the deployment also included diesel prices. Mr. Mohammad noticed that there was information about fuel prices in an area that is relatively dangerous to be in and that it was great to have access to such information online and on mobile.We were speechless at both observations; Because we just discovered a great source of information that is geolocated, contextual and relevant to Afghanis. It is encouraging that our platform and service is of use to the Ministry of Agriculture in Afghanistan, and the people of Afghanistan. Explore the map and add the irrigation channel layer provided on the site. Many thanks to the Ministry for doing this deployment, we are certainly in awe of what has been achieved thus far.
As we go into 2012,the experience underscored our plans at Ushahidi to organize Crowdmaps by country so that discoverability of initiatives like this can be more commonplace and easier than it is right now. We are inspired and encouraged by the various uses, and this particular deployment gives us a glimpse at how useful contextual information can be disseminated, and how layers can be used to provide even more context. We will continue to explore and bring you ways to engage with and contribute to Crowdmaps around the world, on issues that you care about on a local level.
When you get speechless about discovering something together, the thing you do is take a picture right? Right. This is the picture we took to remember this joint moment of discovery and awe. That the picture was taken by Dr. Michael Gould of ESRI adds another of awesome doesn’t it. In case you missed it, ESRI has been a great technology partner for Ushahidi. Data feeds from Ushahidi deployments, Flickr and other geo services can be overlaid on custom ESRI maps.