In early 2008 Kenya experienced a violent upheaval after President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the national election, despite accusations and evidence of tampering with ballots. Riots and fighting amongst various political and ethnic groups quickly led to the deaths of hundreds within the first few days after the election.
During the crisis, bloggers and other "citizen journalists" began an online project to map the locations of attacks and violent outbreaks, and Ushahidi.com was born. People from all over the country could report incidents by email, SMS text messages from mobile phones, or on the web site. Every incident was categorized and placed on a map for all to see. It allowed anyone to instatnly grasp the magnitude of the situation as well as understand specific details and trends about the ongoing crisis.
Now anyone with a mobile phone can become a node on the network.
Now Ushahidi is expanding. The organizers of the site recently announced that they are developing a web-based software platform that can be used by anyone to create the same type of crisis mapping and visualization project that took place in Kenya. A volunteer software team from Africa and around the world is working to create the platform which will be given away freely to anyone interested. The platform will be able to accept information from mobile phones, email, and the web, and the data can be viewed using Google Maps and a variety of charts and graphs. The software platform is scheduled to be alpha-tested in September of 2008.
The organizers of Ushahidi are looking for donations, people to help spread the word, and help from software developers. For more information visit Ushahidi.com. You can also visit the original Kenya project or United for Africa, a similar project mapping xenophobic attacks in South Africa.