What a year!

10 years ago, a group of Kenyan bloggers came together and built Ushahidi to help ordinary Kenyans share what was happening on the ground and keep people safe. Today, in 2018, Ushahidi has grown into a social enterprise with a global team spanning 10 different countries, and continues to build technology to help marginalized people raise their voice and get the help that they need.

Here’s a few highlights from 2018.

10 years of innovation, 10 years of global impact

We officially launched our 10 year impact report, detailing insights and examples from a number of notable use cases of Ushahidi and it’s tools over the years. The Ushahidi platform has been used more than 150,000 times in over 160 countries, crowdsourcing more than 50 million reports from citizens across the world. You can read it here. We also launched our first bottom-up fundraising campaign to support the many grassroots organizations who we donate our tool to for free by being open source and giving away free access to the hosted software. You can read all about our amazing work together here.

Innovating at Ushahidi

We know that challenges in the worlds of technology, humanitarian aid, and democracy are evolving at an unprecedented rate. How do we, as a mission-focused technology organization, ensure that we’re constantly innovating to best serve people in need?

So we asked ourselves, “If we were trying to solve the initial problem Ushahidi was built to solve today, helping disadvantaged people raise their voice and get the help they need, what would we build?” This led to a new product development initiative where we regularly source, assess, prototype, and validate new product ideas to advance our core mission. We call this our Product Discovery process.

Over two months we sourced over forty ideas from the team and ranked them across categories like User Engagement, Product, Engineering, Fundraising, and Business Model. We ended up building a new product, our close the loop machine learning solution focused on matching resources with needs, from idea to working alpha in less than two months. We demoed it at Mozfest, and got the support of Rockefeller and AWS to build out the full product in 2019. We built out the designs and did the market research for another idea - an AR/VR zombie game to help people get prepared for a crisis; think Pokemon Go meets Walking Dead meets your annual local fire station’s crisis prep community talk. We are currently talking with a number of funders to help make this into a reality in 2019.

We will continue to use this model of challenging our own assumptions to come up with the most effective ways to achieve our mission and solve big humanitarian and development problems facing the world.

Inspirational Use Cases from 2018

  • Citizens and diaspora banded together during the Kerala floods and adapted a version of Ushahidi to help source and locate missing persons
  • Civil activists in Zimbabwe banded together to monitor the election this year.
  • In Iran, community organizers have been actively using Ushahidi to organize and report on acts of violence committed during peaceful protests of citizens demanding for representation and their rights.
  • Human rights activists in Cameroon have been using Ushahidi to collect and report on dangerous hate speech online that has been inciting violence.

Check out more inspiring uses of Ushahidi to help people raise their voice and get the help they need.

Awards, and Continued Support for our work!

  • In January, Cisco Foundation supported the development of TenFour.org, our newest product focused on helping organizations take care of their teams in a critical situation.
  • In February, Ushahidi was a winner of the inaugural Shield in the Cloud Competition for innovative technologies combating corruption put on by C5, Amazon Web Services (AWS), PeaceTech Labs, and SAP NS2. Ushahidi won the Shield in the Cloud award for the Non Profit category, and was one of five organizations recognized. As a result, we received a grant to support our hosting services from AWS.

  • In August, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) Open Source Center awarded Ushahidi a Catalytic and grant to support open source work at Ushahidi. DIAL then awarded Ushahidi a Strategic grant in September with a specific focus on improving contributor experience and access to resources.
  • Ushahidi received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in November to support our goal of closing the loop in crises. This grant will support our use of machine learning and predictive analytics to match incidents with those who are most capable of responding to them.
  • In November, Ushahidi an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant to support our work in expanding our machine learning tools to autonomously match resources and responders with needs in crises.

Thank you to all of our funders and supporters!

Product Updates

Ushahidi Platform

We made significant updates to the Ushahidi platform this year

  • We rolled out amazing new features. These include, a targeted survey feature via SMS, a new export system that supports import and export tens of thousands of records and data obfuscation features that add an extra layer of security for our users and their respondents
  • We ran a successful security audit
  • We migrated to Lumen! Ushahidi v3 was originally built on Kohana 3.3. Kohana was officially “retired” on July 1st 2017. We started migrating Ushahidi Platform onto Lumen in March 2018
  • We migrated all our hosted services from RackSpace to Amazon AWS servers: Through their brilliant automation services, we are now able to fully manage the lifecycle of our application environments, and the time required to spin up a new application environment has been reduced by 75%.
  • We adjusted Ushahidi pricing plans to accommodate feedback and learning over the last three years.
  • We’re making serious strides towards integrating Machine Learning into the platform after years working on R&D in this field, with partners at the University of Sheffield’s Natural Language Processing Group and the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute to implement and test a set of Artificial Intelligence systems designed to improve the work flow of Ushahidi users and to enrich the data that they are collecting, through the COMRADES project.


In March 2018, Ushahidi released Tenfour, our team emergency check in application, as a public beta.

Since then,

Take it out for a spin by signing up at https://tenfour.org, today!

DREAMS - Preventing HIV/AIDS amongst Young Women and Girls in East Africa

  • We ran a series of trainings across Kenya and Uganda, helping partners strengthen their use of platform

  • We wrapped up the program with data sharing forums in both countries, allowing for partners and beneficiaries to engage with each other’s programs. {Add picture}
  • It’s amazing to note that 80 (%) of partner institutions made at least one (1) modification to their programming as a result of data gathered through the platform. These instances were primarily recorded in the second year of programme implementation. The decisions made were crosscutting. The data either influenced monitoring of partner project KPIS, monitoring beneficiary activities, aided in identifying training needs and was widely influential in how partners shared information on HIV/AIDs and PREP.

Improving Open Source at Ushahidi

With support from DIAL OSC, this year has seen us begin intense work on improving the open source experience for Ushahidi contributors.

  • We recently sent out an open source survey to better understand the needs of our community. Read our results and findings here.
  • We participated in Hacktoberfest and Google Code In, which saw at least 6 bugs fixed by our community members. Hip hip, Hurray!!!!
  • We also hosted a meetup with our community members right after thanksgiving. You can find notes here.

This is the start of even greater progress on open source in 2019. You can read more about it on our blog post here.

Looking towards 2019

In 2019 Ushahidi is looking to transform the way technology is used to help communities take care of each other. After eleven years of building tools that help document human rights abuses, hate speech, and gender based violence, respond to crisis, and monitor corruption, pollution, and elections -- we have seen the best of people and the worse. We see people using technology to bring sunlight and international attention to horrible acts of violence and oppression, and we have seen communities and people be their best selves coming to each other’s aid.

In 2019 we are going to be focused on building tools that encourage that altruistic nature in each of us. We will be building technology that helps people help each other, using machine learning match resources with needs, and encourage all of us to be our best selves. Because in 2019, we believe that technology on a global scale needs to prove that it is in fact a force for good and making the world a better place.

A Final Ask

We could also use your help in supporting the hundreds of grassroots organisations that are helping respond to crises, monitor elections, document human rights abuses, empower citizens, care for the health of those in their communities, protect against gender violence, reduce violence, and speak truth to power. Each year Ushahidi gives over US $10,000/each of value in technology and support to over two hundred of these orgs, for free, and they need your help to make this happen! Ushahidi needs your help to continue providing these essential tools and support to election monitors, human rights defenders, crisis responders, grassroots activists and individuals working to have their communities voices heard.

Consider donating to Ushahidi today! Thank you for your continued support to Ushahidi.

Happy Holidays, and may you have a prosperous 2019!