Last week Ushahidi lead engineer Zack Halloran and I, Nathaniel Manning, participated at RightsCon. I gave a talk on the new Ushahidi platform, it’s features and goals, as well as diving into the trials and struggles of product development we worked through over the past few years – a deeper dive into that topic is on Medium.

I started the talk by asking the audience, “on the count of three, say what first comes to your mind, one, two, three go.” Out of an audience of a hundred or so, maybe three people said anything. I asked folks to try this again, but this time, “on the count of three say ‘pay attention to this!’ One, two, three...” This time the room echoed with a unified chorus.

“See, focus and unification amplifies our voices.”

Ushahidi’s motto is “Raise your voice.” Through the power of crowdsourcing we help communities and organizations easily gather inputs to help a) amplify their voices to affect change, or 2) respond to their needs by more effectively deploying resources.

The RightsCon event was full of community members and great examples of inspirational deployers of Ushahidi. Harassmap was on a panel, as was Women Under Siege. There were many people who had used our tool over the years to affect change in their communities by bringing transparency to issues and helping people be safer.

The community of people working on Internet Freedom and Human Rights is growing and changing as both the world and technology changes. We took part in many conversations on how to best handle sensitive data, and balance the needs for attention and response with anonymity and safety, a question the journalist and publishing community has struggled with greatly as technology has upended that industry. We also took part in many conversations about net neutrality and the challenges that we face as we attempt to get the remaining 60% of the world online, while keeping the Internet free and open and not a walled garden. As our sister-org BRCK works on this challenge, we will be taking close notice on how we can use our work and influence to make the Internet available to all, while keeping the Internet a free and open place. These are two themes that will continue to influence our work and our products as we work together to help people raise their voice and organizations, governments, and those who serve listen and respond more effectively.