Crisis Mapping Visualization is a key component of Crisis Mapping, which explains why we’re busy developing new and innovative ways to visualize crisis data dynamically.

When we first launched Ushahidi in 2008, we didn’t have the resources to go beyond the static visualization of crowdsourced data. In 2009, we added our first dynamic visualization feature, which allows users to animate or “play” their data over time and space, thus creating “movie maps” of crisis data. This is just the first step. We want Ushahidi to become one of the most innovative open-source platforms around for data visualization. And like most good movies, “special effects” can make all the difference.

So here’s a teaser on just three of several new visualization features you can expect to see on Ushahidi in early 2010. We’ve called these features “Raindrops”, “Footprints” and “Sonar”.

Picture 5

  • Raindrops: Crisis dots are animated over time and space but the dots do not disappear after they have been mapped. Think of the dots as raindrops that form a puddle. This puddle reveals potentially important information: a significant collection of raindrops concentrated in one specific area. This enables the user to identify concentrations of discrete crisis events dynamically.
  • Footprints: Like Raindrops but crisis dots fade out after a certain time, say 3 seconds, as determined by the user. Think of footprints in the sand, these patterns are visible for a while but then fade with time. This visualization may reveal the “direction” or locus of crisis. This enables the user to visualize potential links between most recent crisis events.
  • Sonar: Crisis dots each emit a “beep” sound when they are mapped. This feature leverages sound to augment the user’s visualization experience. Some patterns may be more discernible by visualizing and hearing crisis data over time and space.

Some of the visualizations we’re currently working on were proposed by several colleagues of ours, such as Sophia Lu at Colorado University and Jen Ziemke at John Carroll University. So if you have any innovative ideas, then by all means get in touch at any time, we’d love to hear from you. We also look forward to collaborating with current and future partners in 2010 to ensure that the Ushahidi platform provides innovative visualization features that enable them to make the very most of the data they crowdsource.