Ushahidi’s tools are only as effective as the individuals and organizations that put them to work changing the way information flows to achieve their own goals. As part of our Resilience Network Initiative, in partnership with the Rockefeller foundation, we are constantly looking for ways to connect with and support local networks to improve city resilience.

Attendees of our Milan Meetup a few weeks ago Attendees of our Milan Meetup on 13th July, 2015

This July we piloted a community training and meet-up in Milan, Italy. Ushahidi has an exceptionally strong user-base in Italy: there have been 165 separate deployments of Ushahidi and many deployers actively contribute to our software and documentation. Milan is also a member of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities challenge and served as an ideal testing ground to see how Ushahidi can develop programs that include direct interaction with our users. The value of engaging communities with in-person meet-ups and workshops goes beyond training users about our tools, but also creates synergy by providing a forum for people who may be working on the same problems to meet and begin sharing knowledge.

Ushahidi training in session Ushahidi training in session

Our meet up allowed city representatives to better understand both Ushahidi tools and the network of users that exist within their city. These users are an important resource: they understand the technology and can be representatives of community groups, companies, or institutions that offer important insights to resilience. They may hold the key to instituting a new technology to promote citizen engagement or they may help identify unmet needs or resilience gaps within a city. At the Milan meet-up we were excited to have a wide range of attendees with representatives from:

Each of these individuals and organizations shared stories about how they are using Ushahidi to address the challenges that are important to them. They also brought valuable insight about the technological and organizational challenges they face.

Francesco Bartoli, GeoBeyond Francesco Bartoli, GeoBeyond

19721821408_0abbbdbbb7_z Stefania Traverso, CIMA Foundation

For Ushahidi, these gatherings allow us to discover new users, new uses of our tools, and to receive feedback from those who regularly use them. This informs the evolution of our technology and the structure of our programs to serve their needs. It also informs how we translate our tools and user manuals. We are currently working with volunteers from the Italian community to create a user guidein Italian (based on our recently updated guide) and on translation of other Ushahidi products. This way, Ushahidi builds capacity for training and support within a network that can continue to replicate and scale their efforts. After the success of our pilot in Milan, we are now trying to formalize a curriculum and communications channels that would allow for the replication of similar events in cities around the world.

We would like to say, once again, “Grazie mille!” to everyone who attended, and especially to our hosts at the Politecnico di Milano, without whom this would not have been possible.

Here are links to presentations made at the event

You can see more pictures from the event on our Flickr page or connect with the Italian community yourself via our Twitter list.