The Ushahidi platform would not be what it is today if it weren’t for the amazing support of the Ushahidi community. Members of the community continuously improve the open source software, deploy the technology in truly inspiring ways and share invaluable feedback with the Ushahidi team. So we’ve decided to launch an “Official Ushahidi Partner” Badge and a “Trusted Developer” Badge to recognize some of the most active members of the community.

The “Official Ushahidi Partner” Badge is awarded to established organizations who have a demonstrated track-record of excellence in deploying the Ushahidi platform. The “Trusted Developer” Badge is awarded to software developers who have clearly shown their expertise in customizing several Ushahidi platforms. What do these Badges mean for us and what do they imply? They mean that those awarded with said badges are an extension of the core Ushahidi team. They are close colleagues, respected professionals and all around team players. Receiving a Badge implies that these individuals and organizations are Ushahidi experts.

What do these Badges mean to our official partners and trusted developers? For organizations, the “Official Ushahidi Partner” Badge means that we refer potential clients to them first if these clients operate in the same country/region and/or if they focus on a sector that our partners excel in. For our colleagues with “Trusted Developer” Badges, this means we fully endorse them to clients looking for software expertise in the Ushahidi platform. We thus hope they display these badges prominently on their websites, blogs, etc., and link back to the respective blog posts on Ushahidi (to serve as authentication).

In this blog post, we announce our first two recipients. The first is an organization that has not only customized the Ushahidi platform multiple times over the past year, they have also deployed the platform in some of the most challenging environments we’ve seen. Our first “Official Ushahidi Partner” Badge goes to our Egyptian colleagues, the Development and Institutionalization Support Center (DISC), for their outstanding U-Shahid project. DISC customized and deployed the platform for last year’s Parliamentary Elections, during the civil resistance in early 2011 and continue to launch platforms in support of democratic transition efforts in the country. They are also training others in the Arab region on how to use the platform. We are thus very pleased to award our colleagues at DISC with our first Official Ushahidi Partner Badge!

The first recipient of our “Trusted Developer” Badge is no stranger in the Ushahidi community. He has been engaged in the community for almost as long as the Ushahidi platform has been around. He first deployed the Ushahidi platform in Afghanistan back in 2009 and has helped customize a number of other platforms since. He also played a pivotal role in the transition of the Ushahidi-Haiti Project to the Haitian software company Solutions. More recently, he spearheaded the Universities for Ushahidi (U4U) Project with USIP and worked with our team to set up the foundations for our new community site. He has continuously been a team player and has always sported a smile even during the most challenging projects. He is obviously an excellent software developer as well. Our first “Trusted Developer” Badge thus goes to our good friend and colleague, Rob Baker!

On behalf of the entire Ushahidi Team, we would like to expresses our sincere thanks and gratitude for the significant contributions that both DISC and Rob Baker have made to the Ushahidi platform and by extension the Ushahidi community. Many, many thanks to both of you!