Just over one year ago Nairobi was jolted by the attacks at Westgate Mall. Half of our global team (of now about 35)  are located in Nairobi so to say this hit close to home is both an emotional and a literal statement. We could go into the details of just how closely but instead we are reminded how blessed we are no one on the team or their families were killed or hurt in the siege. Other friends and colleagues were not as fortunate. We paused last month on the 21st of September to remember those we lost and we remain focused on looking ahead. Today's announcement is the result of that focus. When we heard about the attacks, like with projects in the past, we dropped everything and went to work wherever we could help. We posted links and tweeted pertinent resources. We launched a version of our Ushahidi platform and mapped local facilities collecting blood donations. Most of all we built the first iteration of a small application called Ping, a joint effort between our staff in Nairobi and around the world. So many projects in the technology space still seek solutions we should have by now. Unique situations for the country and the context but not uncommon needs. Getting an immediate answer to the simple question of "Are you okay?" should be one of them. There have been some excellent groups and apps working on this same issue. Ping is our contribution, a hosted service that doesn't require a certain device or a certain platform to send or receive messages. Set it up and, whether emergency hits or you just want to check in with your friends, family, or colleagues, type a short message and hit send. Your ping will go out to everyone at once and the service will update their status as they respond. Nothing to install or confirm. Simple, effective, immediate. http://pingapp.io Despite being simple by nature there’s a lot under the hood. Already it's translated into 15 languages and works with a variety of global SMS providers like Nexmo, Twilio, Clickatell, and more. Still, there's much more to do, which is why we're releasing Ping in private alpha for now. We want to open the doors to businesses, municipalities, and organizations who are looking for tool like Ping, to work alongside us to create a tool that meets their real needs. If you think your organization has a good use case or an immediate need, send us an email at ping-partners[at]ushahidi[dot]com and we can get you started. We love building software (and now hardware) this way: responding to a need, a community. Our products have been better for it, ourselves unable to see the whole path before us by trusting that by building communities before audiences, platforms/foundations before features. Let us know if your organization is interested in taking Ping for a spin, join us in bringing immediate peace of mind to people in a time of crisis. For partnership inquiries, please email ping-partners[at]ushahidi[dot]com