Guest blog post by Sean Bonner, Co-founder & Director of Safecast, and Associate Professor at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan ( adapted from original safecast map launch announcement )

On 23rd March 2020, we launched a crowdsourced map to help people document their experiences when seeking COVID-19 testing — were they able to get a test when they sought one, or not. One of Safecast’s founding beliefs is that people should have access to reliable and accurate information in order to make decisions about their own safety and that of their friends and families. We began to publish crowdsourced radiation and air quality data in order to provide an independent and credible source of information about these risks. COVID-19 is already having devastating impacts on communities around the world. People need to prepare for what’s coming and need good information to do that. We also believe they should have easy access to testing options to give reassurances about their own health and safety, and to help them make better decisions during this global emergency.

Currently, however, in many places around the world, official COVID-19 testing information is ambiguous and incomplete, and people are dependent on single sources of official information which may be neither relevant nor trustworthy. Due to the failure of test kits to arrive where needed, delivery of incomplete test kits, overly complicated approval processes, or favoritism and discrimination, it has become apparent that there is a gap between the availability of testing claimed by some governments and what is actually available. This is disturbingly reminiscent of what we saw after 3/11, which we’ve written about in more detail here.

Safescast Covid 19 Testing map

We're using Ushahidi to help collect stories from people all over the world who have been tested for COVID-19, or more often have wanted to get tested because they have symptoms but have been turned away because they don't meet some specific criteria or simply because tests aren't available. As a platform, Ushahidi made it incredibly simple and intuitive for us to get this map up as soon as we decided what we wanted to do.

In less than 48 hours we've received contributions from people all over the world. Heartfelt and harrowing stories of people desperately trying to get answers - in some cases they were able to, in others they are still left wondering. This has put a much needed human face onto a story that has largely been about numbers.

The biggest thing we need right now is to get the word out - as a crowd-sourced tool it's really only as valuable as the people who use it, the more the better. Since not everyone who sees the map will have something to contribute we really need to get in to as many people as possible to make it as useful as it can be. With the help and input of people around the world, this map will hopefully begin to provide a more accurate picture of the relative difficulty of obtaining testing in various locales. It’s our hope that by providing an alternative source of credible crowdsourced information, this map will become a useful tool with which to better target resources and hold governments and officials accountable.

How to use this map:

  • In the menu/navigation you will see options for “Refused Testing” “Testing Unavailable” and “Successfully Tested” which correspond to colored markers on the map. You can turn any of these markers on or off to get a clearer view.
  • You can zoom in or out by clicking the map, or use the search to find specific locations.
  • Selecting an individual point on the map will show you the specific details of that situation.
  • To protect the privacy of contributors, locations shown on this map are obfuscated to within 10 km.
  • To contribute your experience, please select the yellow + icon and then choose the option that best reflects your situation. A short survey will guide you through the details needed.
  • All contributions are put into the public domain.
  • For this map to most useful, we need as many people as possible to contribute their experiences – if you know someone else who has also been tested or has made attempts to get tested, please send them this map and ask them to consider contributing.


  • As all contributions to this map are crowd sourced, it would be impossible for us to guarantee the validity of any information and make no assurances as such. This map is provided as supplemental information only.
  • The survey options might not apply to every person, this is by design. We are not trying to create a map of people who aren’t feeling well or think they might be sick as there are a number of symptom maps being run by medical professionals who are much better equipped to process that kind of information. The purpose of this map is to highlight the disparity between the number of people who are getting tested, the number of people who are unable to get tested despite attempts, and how these numbers compare against official “tested” numbers being published by governments.

As this situation continues to evolve, we anticipate updating and adjusting this map as well as the data we collect and display. For resources and other information about Safecast’s efforts surrounding COVID-19, please see this page.

Editor’s note: If interested in volunteering with safecast, see here for more information. Please consider supporting their work by donating to them.