Ushahidi-Fletcher Situation Room Update

Erik Hersman
Jan 18, 2010

We really couldn't do this project with out the help of the Boston situation room. They are combing through the reports, getting updates via many different forms of media - basically making sense of a mountain of incoming data. On top of that, they're coordinating with many more thousands of individuals all over the world to help find critical data on locations, needs and confirmations with the people on the ground in Haiti. Fletcher situation room for Ushahidi Haiti (by @mbelinsky) [This message from Patrick Meier, Director of crisis mapping and partnerships for Ushahidi, who is coordinating out of Boston and is the lead on the Haiti deployment for us. (A video)]

This has probably been the most incredible day thus far thanks to Brian, David, Josh & co: the 4636 SMS feature is up and running. Team, this is completely unprecedented in the history of humanitarian response. We’re getting 100’s of text messages into Ushahidi, translated into English thanks to Brian’s 10,000 Haitian volunteers. We can then map this, or ask for more information (with pre-arranged text in English or Creole, eg, please send more location info). This SMS from Ushahidi then goes back to the original sender of the original SMS, who can then reply with the more precise location info (say in Creole). This goes back to the 10,000 Haitian translators who translate into English and then this goes back to us at Ushahidi in the appropriate SMS thread for us to map. Honestly, the word that comes to mind to describe this is “absurd”, in the best possible, most positive sense of the word. This, Team, is what I am fond of calling an iRevolution. Also an amazing live Skype chat between Anna here in the Sit Room and Eric Rasmussen (InSTEDD and former Chief Medical Officer of the US Navy). Eric skyping from tarmac of PoP airport asking for GPS coordinates of the most obscure addresses, sites, locations and Anna providing these in record time. She has wowed the entire team in PaP including military, UN, etc. Incredible to witness all this real time networking and collaboration. Mark my words, the response to Haiti is a turning point in the history of disaster response. All of this is completely unprecedented. I could go on and on with more of these “absurd” anecdotes, but this is supposed to be Situation Update

Fletcher Ushahidi Situation Room

Here's a pic from the just-opened Washington DC situation room:

The Ushahidi-Fletcher situation room in DC

Thanks everyone!


We sent out an email to contacts at Fletcher, Harvard and MIT for a training at Fletcher on Tuesday evening that will allow us to transition and remain sustainable on the Haiti project. We need to figure out a way for the greater community to keep up the work that started at Fletcher and that needs to be sustained to ensure that reports are being approved. Please contact us at the Situation Room if you'd like to be involved in that.