Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Rishi Bhargava, Liz McMillan, Kevin Benedict

Blog Feed Post

Ushahidi – Revolutionizing Disaster Relief

By

“We believe that the number of deaths being reported by the government, police, and media is grossly under reported. We also don’t think we have a true picture of what is really going on – reports that all have us have heard from family and friends in affected areas suggests that things are much worse than what we have heard in the media.
We also (in my idealist world) hope that we can begin to put names and faces to the people who have lost their lives in this mess.
What’s the point of all this you might ask? Well, Kenyans have demonstrated their capacity for selective amnesia time and time again. When this crisis comes to an end we don’t want what happened to be swept under the rug in the name of “moving forward” – for us to truly move forward, the truth of what happened needs to be told – Ushahidi (www.ushahidi.com) is our small way of contributing to that”.

Ushahidi is a small Kenyan-born organization that develops free, open source software for information gathering, visualization, and interactive mapping. Originally designed to map reports of post-election violence in Kenya, Ushahidi has since then developed into a social collaboration tool turning citizens into journalists all over the world. The organization combines crowdsourcing, social activism, citizen journalism, and geospatial information into a resultant product that has been called one of the most disruptive innovations of the last decade. The Ushahidi Platform allows local observers to send reports using their mobile phones or the Internet, while concurrently constructing a time-based, geospatial archive of incidents.

In 2008, after Kenya’s contentious election, violence exploded across the country. After receiving threats about her work, a well-known Kenyan lawyer and blogger Ory Okolloh wrote about the idea of an Internet mapping tool that would allow people to report violence anonymously. Software engineers that read Ms. Okolloh’s blog built the Ushahidi Web Platform over a long weekend and the site was up and running soon afterwards. The Kenyan website allowed users to submit eyewitness reports of riots, stranded refugees, rapes, and murders via email and text-message and placed the events on a Google map.

When the Haitian earthquake struck, Ushahidi quickly built a Web Platform for the Haitian people. An emergency number for texting was advertised on the radio and Ushahidi received thousands of messages reporting trapped victims. The messages were translated by a widespread band of Haitian-Americans in the U.S and quickly plotted on a “crisis map”. From a room at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Ushahidi volunteers worked with the United States Coast Guard in Haiti helping locate survivors.  After the Chilean earthquake, Ushahidi quickly organized again.

There are many potential problems with the Ushahidi Web Platforms. People could lie, addresses could be wrong, or the reports of violence could be exaggerated. But as data collects, Ushahidi maps can expose underlying pattern. How large was the radius of the earthquake’s devastation? How many miles inland did the hurricane cause catastrophic damage? Are the murders broadly distributed or focused near military bases?

With tools like Ushahidi, humanitarian work can now operate much differently than it has in the past. In the past, humanitarian work was limited in part by the small number of foreign journalists who were able to get to a disaster location and report on events there. Now victims on the ground can supply real-time information to a horde of global volunteers ready to translate the text messages and help orchestrate relief.

Ushahidi represents a new type of innovation. Entrepreneurship derived from hardship and suffering. These innovators concentrate on doing more with less and the consequences have been nothing less of amazing. Because Ushahidi was an idea born out of a crisis, no one tried to capitalize on its launch. The organization used open-source software and was therefore able to let others alter the tool for new projects. “Ushahidi remixes” have been used in Armenia and India to monitor elections; in the Middle East to report on the Gaza War; in Africa to report on medicine shortages; and in Washington DC to map road blockages and the location of available snowplows.

Innovations like Ushahidi and the organizations other data processing tools like Swift River are truly changing the landscape of disaster relief and humanitarian work.

 

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com

@ThingsExpo Stories
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...