Ushahidi is a web-based platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. The goal is to create a way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response. In 2008, Ushahidi was awarded $25,000 after winning the NetSquared N2Y3 Mashup Challenge. Since then, the Project has seen massive growth and success in information sharing during disaster and crisis situations.
David Kobia is the Director of Technology at Ushahidi, and the brains behind the platform's development. This summer, the MIT's Technology Review honored his hard work and dedication by adding him to the list of 2010 Young Innovators Under 35 and featuring him with the top honor of Humanitarian of the Year.
As part of the award, the Technology Review created an video featuring David (which I highly recommend watching) and wrote a truly inspiring article about the beginnings of Ushahidi and David's involvement with it. Here's an excerpt from the article:
After receiving the NetSquared prize, Ushahidi played a role in crisis after crisis as tech-savvy grassroots organizations downloaded the platform. With each implementation, it grew as users requested features and Kobia and a growing team of developers obliged. The most challenging test came early this year. On the evening of January 12, 2010, Kobia received an urgent phone call from Patrick Meier, director of crisis mapping and strategic partnerships at Ushahidi and founder of the International Network of Crisis Mappers, an Internet-based group that brings together cartographers, imaging experts, and specialists in crisis management. He was looking for ways that digital mapping might help Haiti cope with the aftermath of the earthquake that had just struck.
Kobia set up a Ushahidi website for the crisis, and within hours, the system was fielding reports of human misery on a vast scale--25,000 text messages and 4,500,000 Twitter posts before the month was out. Working through the U.S. State Department, he arranged with Haitian telecommunications companies to supply a four-digit SMS code for emergency messages. Aid workers in Haiti distributed the number on printed flyers.
Congratulations to Ushahidi's David Kobia for being named Humanitarian of the Year by MIT's Technology Review! We are so impressed with the work of the entire Ushahidi team and are proud to have been able to contribute to your growth.
Photo Caption: Ushahidi map of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Credit: Ushahidi (via Technology Review)