Introducing CrisisNET

    Jun 9, 2014

    logo-200x200At Ushahidi, we love helping people turn data into social impact. We’ve helped thousands of users gather and manage crowdsourced data during everything from natural disasters to political revolutions. When Ushahidi was founded in 2008, our tools provided a rare and valuable source of crisis-relevant data to citizens, policy makers, and responders. Since then, we’ve watched the volume and variety of crisis data go from a trickle to a flood. We are proud to see crowdsourced crisis data become a part of journalism, policy discussions, activism, and research today -- proud to have been a part of this crisis data revolution. As daily users of this crisis data, however, we’ve been increasingly struggling with an expensive problem: while crisis data exists, makers don’t have the resources required to clean and format the it quickly in the middle of fast moving crises. The incredible power of crisis relevant data — from Facebook posts about Syria to UNHCR’s data feed on refugees — remains locked away behind under-documented APIs and obscure formats. For crisis data to be useful, it needs to be restructured and harmonized into popular web formats that developers and other makers understand. In other words, there is a flood of crisis data, but to extract the full value of the world’s crisis-relevant data, we don’t need a flood, we need a firehose. A year ago, Ushahidi started working on a secret project to build a crisis data firehose, and we’re announcing it today. We are calling it CrisisNET: a free service that does the heavy-lifting around cleaning, formatting, and normalizing multi-source crisis data, freeing developers and other makers to focus on what they really care about: impact. CrisisNET is an open-source platform that dramatically reduces the time it takes developers and other makers to get their hands on well-structured crisis data -- from hours (even days) to seconds. How? CrisisNET continually collects thousands of data feeds from a wide variety of sources, then organizes, cleans, converts, and restructures the data into a single, well-documented, accessible format. Data are further enhanced with additional metadata including automated topic tagging, geo-coding, licensing information, and much more. Today, we are excited to announce that CrisisNET enters public beta, free and available for all journalists, researchers, developers, and decision makers to wield the power of crisis data quickly. To get started, simply register for a free API key, be inspired by an example use of CrisisNET data, learn from tutorials on our blog, or use our API explorer to browse.