Two weeks ago, Ushahidi deployed our software to allow people to raise their voice around voter supression in the USA Election, and violence, protest and hate speech post election, which has been covered by The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Verge, TechCrunch, and countless others. As this project received more attention, we have joined countless conference calls to talk to amazing organizations who are themselves trying to gather reports about the rise in hate speech and violence in the USA post-election and how they can use technology to aid their human rights and civil liberties efforts. This is great, people are energized around helping the marginalized. However, we have noticed that this is what happens after most disasters, political crisis, or a rise against human rights. This is in fact how Ushahidi started, as a reaction to an immediate need. But that was nine years ago. That was why we turned Ushahidi into a platform, so no one had to rebuild it from scratch again. This is why we build, to help others.
Too often, we see organizations think that they need to rebuild the wheel in the wake of a crisis. Just in the past week the number of efforts to create a new mapping tool to gather and map reports is astounding. The number of organizations who create their own web form to gather reports, or the number of separate initiatives to scrape social media, is astounding.
The social and humanitarian sectors have an opportunity here, they finally have resources designed specifically for them, something that only existed for the private sector before. If I run a business and want to do my taxes, I don’t hire a developer to rebuild me Quickbooks, I just go buy Quickbooks. The social sector now can do this too, and that is absolutely incredible. This is mission driven work beyond the immediate end-user, this is systemic, platform-level change. And this is the type of change Ushahidi aims to bring to the world.
Nine years ago when Ushahidi started there was a nascent industry of technology companies designing and building software specifically for the social, humanitarian, and development sectors. In 2016, it has turned into a robust group of companies doing this work: civic tech organization, humanitarian tech organizations, and many more. We aim to build the best software tools for these industries to help people raise their voice and help those who serve them to listen and respond more effectively. We build tools that help those who act for transparency, justice, crisis response, and human rights, to be able to do their work better, to improve their impact, to help.
This sector is here to serve the organizations who do this great work. We want to be your service providers, you to be our clients. We want to help you reduce your costs, improve your impact, help your users.
Today we are asking you to help us do this work. If you are an organizer or organization, sign up and start using the tool. Or if you believe in systemic change, cross-pollination, and a 21st century technically-forward social sector, consider donating to support builders.