This is a guest blogpost from Nick Doiron. He is a civil engineering student and GIS programmer in his senior year at Carnegie Mellon University. For CrisisCamp DC, he also developed an offline mapping activity which can display Ushahidi data on the OLPC XO laptop.

The Ushahidi platform is based on reports from specific places and times, so mapping items such as realtime sensors, position, or analytics poses a challenge. Consider a volunteer who is tracking oil-collecting boats in the Gulf of Mexico, or refreshing a dam gauge report during floods in Pakistan, or advising the Red Cross on how many people live in an area which reports unclean water. These are all real-world situations where volunteers have been using the wealth of information available online, but it would be more powerful to connect these visually on the Ushahidi map, alongside the crowdsourced reports.

Fortunately, both Ushahidi and CrowdMap use OpenLayers. Nearly any source can be mapped as a layer atop the reports map, with a script to create the points, tools, and interactions. Your custom points can also connect directly to the timeline.
You can save these scripts in the bookmarks section of your web browser and click to run them on any website.
Here are a couple of examples:

Drive times mapped onto Uchaguzi TZ (script from ESRI’s AgMarketFinder)

DahRM

Realtime water quality and flood gauges along a river

Realtime position of boats on LA Bucket Brigade’s Oil Spill map

I have uploaded more examples including weather archives and a population estimator tool to an examples page.

To use a script, copy the link or drag the screenshot into the bookmarks section of your browser. Then, while you are on an Ushahidi or CrowdMap site, click the bookmark to activate it.
Try these examples on your own Ushahidi site, consider adaptations and additional data sources, and please share your thoughts and requests in the comments.

*Sorry for the disappearance of the earlier post, we had an outage and have recovered now.