Ushahidi is now five years old!
The non-profit open source mapping software firm has built tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering the barriers for individuals to share their stories worldwide.
Developed in Kenya after the 2008 post-election violence to map violence and peace efforts Ushahidi, Swahili for witness has come to be used across the world to map crisis. Ushahidi later built a large team of software volunteers from Africa, Europe, South America and the U.S.
Eric Hersman, one of the co-founders remembers the early days of the platform now used across the world.
He writes, “What started as an ad hoc group of bloggers and technologists scrambling to make sense of the madness that our country was falling into has become a global organization and platform. There was no way we could foresee what would happened in the intervening years.”
Ushahidi was “a rudimentary mashup of email, SMS and web reports on a map” but it fulfilled the desire of the co-founders (David, Juliana, Ory, Eric and Daudi), passionate about using technology to solve the then violence problem and they had no idea it would be this big.
Eric adds, ” Back in those early days of 2008 we had this idea, this glimmer of a thought, that what we had started in Kenya could become something bigger. That a simple software platform, if made open source, could be used by others in need and create a revolution. It has.”
40,000+ Deployments in 159 countries
The has been over40,000+ Ushahidi deployments in 159 countries allowing people to tell their stories, disrupting how information flows in the world. However that is not the end for the platform, the team is focused on creating new tools that make mapping easier and cool and with a greater impact.
Now with 21 team members, Ushahidi says it is set for the forthcoming general elections in Kenya.
You can read about Ushahidi’s milestones and projects here.
Ushahidi’s new project Uchaguzi is solely focused on Kenya, and is a step at empowering citizens to monitor the election process and avoid violence. Users send reports to the the monitoring team via an iPhone or Android app and SMS or email.