tools directory

Ushahidi Crowdmapping Platform

What situations is this tool used in?

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining services, ideas, functions, or contacts from a large and undefined network of people.

Ushahidi, Inc is an organisation that uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability and what has been termed “activist mapping”, combining social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial data (data relative to a particular location).

Who is this tool aimed at?

This process can occur online and offline, but it tends to involve predominantly online communities for monitoring and gathering evidence (e.g. elections, crisis situations, etc.).

Ushahidi created a website in the aftermath of the disputed Kenyan elections in 2007 where citizens could report acts of violence by email and text message and place them on a Google Map. The platform has since been used and developed by several organisations/ movements around the world.

How Is the Tool Used?

A free and open-source platform such as Ushahidi can help create a temporal and geospatial archive of events. The core platform allows the gathering of information from the general public during a crisis in near real-time. This can be particularly useful for those areas that are not well covered in the mainstream media, for instance. The original website helped to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout Kenya during the 2007 elections, based on reports submitted by the public through the Internet and mobile phones.

The platform also includes products such as SwiftRiver and CrowdMap. Swiftriver helps people filter through and understand a large amount of information. CrowdMap was initially built to crowdsource crisis information in Kenya, but it is continuously developed by users; it has been used to document the Occupy Movement and the 2011 London anti-cuts movement. Geo-social add-ons such as Checkins are applications that can facilitate social networking within a particular location: users can speed up data entry, by first inserting the location and later adding further details.

Who has used the tool?

Following its first applications in Kenya, Ushahidi has been used in several countries by citizens, media organisations including Al-Jazeera, and social movements to document crises (e.g. 2010 earthquake in Chile) and protests (e.g. 2011 pro-democracy demonstrations in the Middle East).

Where to find out more

Main Ushahidi website: http://www.ushahidi.com/

Crowdmap used by Occupy movement: http://map.occupy.net/

Al-Jazeera uses Ushahidi to map Ugandan citizens’ response to #Kony2012 campaign http://blog.ushahidi.com/2012/03/14/ugandaspeaks-al-jazeera/ 

Blog on Ushahidi: http://lifehacker.com/5612368/crowdmap-puts-any-data-on-an-interactive-map