We have seen some incredible use cases of Ushahidi over the past five years, the majority of which we could never have dreamed of. Erik posted a blog post about how we choose to go wide instead of just deep by creating a tool that was purposefully a platform. We have been blown away by the creativity of our community, using Ushahidi to gather data about everything from corruption to environmental monitors, from reporting clinic medicine stockouts to creating a record of land grabs in India or mapping powercuts. And of course the huge and incredible community around monitoring human rights abuses, election monitoring, and crisis response. As we are developing v3, we are trying to build a platform that can serve this creativity across our user-base. We are super excited to build a tool that supports the human rights defenders, the crisis responders, and the election monitors out there in the field. As we said last week, we see ourselves as Q to these awesome 007s. We also have been experimenting and doing further research on the uses of Ushahidi that we could never of dreamed of. We are hoping that v3 serves this inventive ideators as well. Some of the interesting use cases for Ushahidi that we are excited to see more of are (although this list is not exhaustive by any means!):
  • Feedback loops. We have been super impressed by the number of Crowdmaps deployments being used to give people a channel to voice their opinions. From development projects and funders reaching out for feedback, to utilities creating a channel for reporting issues with service. This is a huge need, particularly at the last mile, and we are excited to help out here where we can.
  • Market/community/industry research. We have also been super impressed with deployments like Cost of Chicken, Poverty Stoplight, or agriculture in Afganistan, where organizations or people are using Ushahidi to gather data to better understand how to serve the needs of community and make better decisions, and drastically reducing the cost compared to the business as usual method of house-hold surveys
  • Campaigning. Deployers have continually used Ushahidi as a backend for running local campaigns. Allowing people to sign a petition by reporting via the typicaly Ushahidi channels of SMS, email, web form, or Twitter hashtag. We are seeing the Crowdmap API particularly as a backbone for these kind of projects.
  • Supply-chain management: This is a new one, but something we are excited to see more of. People have been using Ushahidi as a tool to gather reports like signatures of petitions. We think the Crowdmap API can be a great backbone for these types of campaigning initiatives.
  • Journalism: Journalists have been using Ushahidi on the front-lines for years, from Somalia Speaks by Aljazeera , to the HuffingtonPost’s FirstHand. We want to make it even easier for journalists to deploy a Crowdmap to get first hand reports from what’s happening on the ground – no matter where the writer might be based.
  • Community Mapping: Ushahidi doesn’t map the brick and mortor part of the world, we lean on our friends at OpenStreetMap to do that. Ushahidi is a tool to map the intangible, transitory part of the world. The thoughts and opinions of people, what they have witnessed. When it is boiled down, Ushahidi is a database of what happened, when and where. This has proven useful for people to build their communities, from cities to organizations.
With creation of v3, we hope to better serve our whole community by being the platform that can support all the use cases that range across the mission for changing the way information flows in the world.