Last week I had the honour of attending a number of events in NYC around the UN General Assembly. One of the most inspiring and rewarding was the Solutions Summit, hosted by the UN Foundation and the Office of the US Chief Technology Officer. The Solutions Summit came into formation last year with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals: “The purpose of the Solutions Summit is two-fold: 1) to lift up exceptional innovators -- technologists, engineers, scientists, and others -- who are developing solutions that address one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and 2) to catalyze a grassroots effort, where communities scout and convene resources around solution-makers.” Over 3000 organizations applied this year for ten spots. Those ten winners stood on a stage with the US CTO and the UN Special Representative to Refugees and Human Rights, and had five minutes to tell the audience how their solution was changing the world.
Ushahidi Inc. was not one of these ten solutions -- it was even better. Two of the ten selected from thousands were organizations that were created from using Ushahidi. The first was Humanitarian Tracker (@SyriaTracker), the creators of Syria Tracker, who have used Ushahidi for over 6 years to collect first-hand reports of the violence going on in Syria. Syria Tracker has now gathered over 5700 reports from people on the ground, helped trigger alerts to those nearby, and brought transparency to this terrible crisis. It is the longest standing reporting tool in Syria, and the reports they have helped to surface have been used by The Washington Post, the United Nations, and USAID.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, SafeCity.In (@pinthecreep), were also heralded for their incredible work using Ushahidi. SafeCity helps make cities in India safer for women, giving them a way to anonymously and safely report on harassment and abuse using Ushahidi. Their director told me that, “we were able to get the Ushahidi platform up and running in 48 hours, before we even settled on our name!” They have gathered nearly 10,000 reports over the past few years. This shocking proof of the state of the issue has allowed them to advocate to cities for more street lighting, awareness campaigns, and improved city resources to protect women.
The fact that two of the ten solutions selected for this honor were created using Ushahidi is incredible. Even more powerful is the fact that the tool allowed two organizations to come into being and dedicate their resources to solving these problems, and not have to spend them rebuilding technology from scratch. There are many ways to measure impact, but knowing that organizations like SafeCity and Humanitarian Tracker are able to form around the use of Ushahidi, and are out there protecting civilians in Syria, or bringing transparency to human rights abuse of women in India is proof enough for us.
Congratulations to Humanitarian Tracker and SafeCity and to all the other incredible deployers of Ushahidi out there.