This week I am leading a four-part seminar on interest-based negotiation skills at the iHub. The short course is open to Ushahidi team members, m:lab incubatees, and the general iHub community. It builds off of two talks I gave earlier in the summer for the Pivot East and Tech4Africa conferences, but provides much more time for dialogue and a full-blown negotiation simulation. Thanks to the continued support of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation (PON)

Facebook is quickly becoming the richest available source of real-time crisis reporting. Using CrisisNET we’ve been monitoring over 2,000 public Facebook pages focused on Middle East conflict since we launched the platform earlier this month. While data from these pages isn’t always perfect, it’s proven to be an invaluable resource for understanding conflict as it happens on the ground.

Knowledge from the Noise

Traditional, curated reporting data …

2013-BRCK-Ushahidi-iHub When we sit back and think about all the various organizations, projects, and companies we have been a part of over the past six years, at first glance they are seemingly quite different. But the reality is that we have simply aimed to solve our problems from internet connectivity to gathering meaningful information. There are many ways that the organizations and initiatives we’ve been a part of connect to one another, even if at first they’re not obvious. The first is that we’re always solving for a need that we have. The second is that we’re trying to do our part within a greater ecosystem to help it grow, and many times this is related to the tech industry in East Africa.

Our Community is Important to us!

IMG_29042014_173121 The Ushahidi community has always been at the heart of what we do.
  • Developers and Designers: Every single line of code you commit to ushahidi goes a long way in improving our software for mappers across the globe. Our last 3 bug fix releases couldn’t have been done without you
  • Translators: You help to globalise our software by making it available in more than 42 languages worldwide
  • Deployers/Users: You share your experiences and lessons learned with us, in turn, teaching other deployers through your experiences
  • Researchers: You help us make sense of data collected, and frame our thinking behind data collection and how to structure our tools and strategies.

We sent out this community survey because we care about what you think, and want to understand how to better serve your needs.

As I reflect back on the Ushahidi's first 6 years, I realize that they have been an education in many ways, but possibly the most important lesson is that it is important to do what is hard. To work on things that are more big and difficult than what most people are willing to attempt. To question assumptions on what can be done.

OtterBox_Wireless_600w Crowdsourcing, the idea of soliciting information from citizens and relying on their participation to achieve certain goals is almost 10 years old. We ourselves, have been building products that allow users to collect, curate and visualize information since 2008, relying solely on the power of the masses. In the last few years, internet enabled sensing devices have permeated every day life, through mobile devices and through very cheap and accessible electronic sensors. We've wondered for some time now how we might combine the perceptive abilities of the crowd with the long term sensing capabilities of machines to help us deal with issues of verification and continuous monitoring. Machine sensing is precise and incontrovertible for the most part, which is why we feel it plays a role in the crowdsourcing conversation.

We have seen some incredible use cases of Ushahidi over the past five years, the majority of which we could never have dreamed of. Erik posted a blog post about how we choose to go wide instead of just deep by creating a tool that was purposefully a platform. We have been blown away by the creativity of our community, using Ushahidi to gather data about everything from corruption to environmental monitors, from reporting clinic medicine stockouts to creating a record of land grabs in India or mapping powercuts. And of course the huge and incredible community around monitoring human rights abuses, election monitoring, and crisis response.