The Nigerian elections are happening this weekend and over the coming week and Ushahidi has been working with the Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), and developers Dan Woods and Quinn Lee to create an early warning dashboard for violence in the run up, during and immediately after the elections.

Stakeholder Democracy Network has been working in the Niger Delta for over 10 years. During the 2011 elections, they used the Ushahidi powered Niger Delta Watch website to monitor events and highlight human rights abuses and forced evictions.

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This year, they sought the help of the CrisisNET team, to test a huge idea: how close can we get to predicting violence?

Our strategy was to prototype a solution as quickly as possible, so SDN could try it out under real-world conditions, which should inform the next iteration of the dashboard. Quinn Lee heard about the project through the Partially Derivative Podcast that the CrisisNET team runs, and volunteered to help build a prototype of a dashboard that gets us remarkably close to that goal, using data from CrisisNET, and in response to the goals outlined by SDN’s technical lead, Rory Hodgson

The Niger Delta Violence Early Warning Dashboard is aimed at picking out potential hot-spots in the Niger Delta where we know there is a history of conflict and flare-ups.

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SDN’s extensive networks on the ground have identified key players in the region, opinion-formers and those with their nose to the ground as well as local news sources and active social media channels.

CrisisNET has been able to collect more than 100,000 documents about the Nigerian election, and has been collecting 6,000-10,000 more every day. These come from dozens of Twitter accounts and five mainstream media sources based in Nigeria.

With these active news and social media sources feed into the system, Quinn has been able to quickly use the API to develop a useful and intuitive interface that will help SDN spot potential trouble-spots during the upcoming elections and beyond.

At a glance you can see how often violence is being discussed, where it’s happening, and who is involved, all with a few clicks using the dashboard’s interactive graphics.

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The dashboard will help the SDN election monitoring teams to keep an eye on the situation and ideally take early interventions to avoid any conflict form escalating by mobilising networks of influential peacemakers. With the elections looking to be closely fought and with a changing political dynamic in the country the following months are likely to be a turbulent time in the Niger Delta with restive youth and militant movements becoming active once again.

We hope that the Violence Early Warning Dashboard will be able to help dampen down the likelihood of any violence escalating beyond control.

Rory Hodgson

Working on this project has shown us that this model for collaboration would be extremely helpful to any humanitarian response in future. The subject matter experts told us what to look for, our platform made that collection possible and easy to use so volunteers with technical expertise could prototype a complicated idea in a (relatively speaking) short amount of time.

We hope to see more similar impact in the future, and will continue to work with the Social Democracy Network to build upon this proof of concept for improvement.

Here are couple of Other Nigerian election monitoring maps that would be great to watch, if keen on the Nigerian election: